TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CONDITIONS IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF LITHUANIA AND LATVIA REGIONS
Abstract: The authors of this article discuss the tourism development conditions in the municipalities of the Eastern Aukštaitija region, in Lithuania, and the Latgale region, in Latvia. The aim of the research is to explore tourism development conditions in the municipalities of the Eastern Aukštaitija region, in Lithuania and Latgale region, in Latvia. Objectives of the research are to characterize the factors influencing the development of tourism, to perform an analysis of the main factors of tourism development of the Eastern Aukštaitija region in Lithuania and the Latgale region in Latvia, and to define the major factors of tourism management in the municipalities of the Eastern Aukštaitija region, and the Latgale region. The scientific problem - the tourism development trends have not been studied in a local, municipality level in Lithuania and Latvia and tourism in districts is developed without a clear and long-term development strategy and consistent implementation of the program. The authors of the article apply the analysis of scientific literature, quantitative research – a survey and questionnaire data generalization. Six tourism specialists in the eastern Aukštaitija region, and 30 tourism specialists in the Latgale region, were interviewed. Tourism development issues are discussed and the results of the research (analysis of scientific literature and the questionnaire, analysis of strategic documents) are performed. The conclusions of article are: factors which influence tourism in the Lithuanian and Latvian regions most are the image of tourism destination/awareness, quality of tourism services, management of tourism destination, variety of tourism services and tourism infrastructure. Second conclusion: tourism specialists identified management of tourism destination, image of tourism destination/ awareness, quality of tourism services in Lithuania region; cultural, natural and human resources and tourism services (travel organization, tourism information services, nutrition in the Latvian region, as tourism development strengths in municipalities of the Lithuanian and Latvian region; tourism diversity and tourist infrastructure in the Lithuanian region and tourism infrastructure and entertainments in Latvia region were identified as weaknesses. Third conclusion: tourism development in both regions is threatened by such factors as unplanned changes of the state economic development priorities, population migration to other countries and other factors. While, tourism development in the region can benefit from EU funds, and the growing demand for active recreation and health tourism products in the hospitality industry and etc. Tourism development at the municipalities of both regions in Lithuania and Latvia is influenced by such factors, as the development of the tourism planning and management system, adequate competence of human resources, cooperation between public and private sectors, planning and organization, legal tourism base, tourism projects development and implementation, tourism development strategy and research in the tourism development area.
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