This project, No. LLI-199 „Travel smart – visit Lithuania and Latvia“ / Travel smart, is directed towards preserving the natural and cultural heritage, located in Lithuania and Latvia, as well as to actively adapt to visiting tourists; to increase awareness of attractions through various publicity measures, to stimulate people's interest in the region. The project aims to create a single region covering the tourist route by using innovative measures. 7 partners are participating in the project: 3 from Lithuania, 4 from Latvia. During the project, an interactive map will be created. This map will mark 10 must-see sights in each partner's territory. In order to have the objects be attractive, and appropriate for tourists to visit, the funds will be invested in adapting the objects. The project aims to create a harmonious Lithuanian and Latvian tourism development system, to implement a model of the project that will show how the potential of regional tourism, if properly used, could help achieve outstanding results.
The development of tourism not only makes Lithuania and Latvia more visible in the world, which provides a very important boost for economic growth, but also allows for a better understanding of the general space of Baltic culture. During the year 2013, a total of 1.552 million foreigners visited Lithuania, 146.3 thousand of which were Latvian, however, 42 percent of these people stayed in Lithuania for only a single day (did not stay overnight). Latvia was visited by 5.04 million foreigners, 34 percent of whom were from Lithuania, but 73 percent of the visitors only visited Latvia for a day (did not stay overnight). In general, in the Baltic Sea region and further afield, Lithuania and Latvia are regarded as a single body of tourism, and its prospects in general tourist routes are namely associated with the Nordic countries. Lithuanian and Latvian regions have many individual attractions which, when integrated into a common route, can create strong synergies and enhance the region's attractiveness for tourism, simplifying the way for foreign tourists to discover attractions of regions, route planning. The project covers a very large territory.
Recently, tourism has become one of the most important economic areas in the world. In most cases, tourism benefits countries. It promotes employment, private business growth and infrastructure development. The development of the sector of tourism is particularly preferred in less developed regions. The prevalence of tourism all over the world is causing competition among individual regions, or making regions form into a single whole, in order to attract more tourists. There is a growing interest in natural, cultural tourism, more people are looking for an attractive tourist route. Travelling alone or in small groups is becoming more and more popular. Lithuania and Latvia are competitive in the field of tourism, a crucial role is played by the historical past, the lingering cultural heritage, and natural environment. On one hand, Latvia and Lithuania are able to introduce the international community to their separate regional identities and to get the greatest economic, social, and thus political benefits, on the other hand, there is a challenge to survive in the increasing competition of attracting tourists. All of this encourages the exploitation of existing potential of the country by properly developing attractive tourist routes in the region, suitable for exploring attractions that are unique because of their landscape and cultural features. The concept of sustainable tourism supports: the optimal use of natural resources, which form the basis for tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes, and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity. Respect for the social-cultural authenticity of the hosting communities, preserving their established living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contributing to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. To ensure effective, long-term economic performance, provide social and economic benefits to all the parties, distributing the benefits fairly. Upon arrival, foreign tourists enjoy the supply of natural resources, created by local entities, pay for utilities - all of this positively affects the local economy. The arrival of tourists increases the volume of trade, financial revenue, creates jobs, helps collect more taxes and stimulates other economic activities.
The economic product of inbound tourism has an impact of diversity on the economic growth. Tourists make an impact on trade and the labour market in the region they are visiting. The most direct economic impact of inbound tourism is felt in the initial tourism businesses - rental stations, hotels, restaurants, passenger transport businesses, leisure facilities and retail activities. However, the higher the amount of money in the market that comes in through any sector of the economy, including tourism, means not only that a single branch of business is developing - the money spent in tourism translates into increased investment in other fields. Inbound tourism attracts investment, generates income and improves the balance of trade, create jobs, promotes qualitative development of the populations of the visited regions.
Lithuania and Latvia have always been neighbouring countries, which helped establish strong, time-tested relations. These countries not only share a historical legacy, but also a variety of business and cultural relations, personal relationships, intertwined human destinies. All of this creates an excellent basis for the development of cooperation among the peoples. Successful and flexible economic partnership is the basis of maintaining good political relations between Lithuania and Latvia. Stronger trade relations and economic integration between the two countries contribute to the stability and economic growth. Latvia and Lithuania are one of the main partners in the economic sphere. The unused opportunities for tourism are revealed by comparing Lithuania and Latvia with other EU countries in terms of foreign tourist overnight stays in one year per capita. In 2014, the indicator was 1.03 in Lithuania, 1.44 in Latvia. Lithuania and Latvia do not fully use their potential in improving the efficiency of tourism. Visited attractions have not been fully reconstructed and adapted to visitors. Internet space displays a lack of information on places of interest in the regions, or the provided information is fragmented and is not producing the correct result. Contemporary tourism is a very dynamic activity, and therefore, in applying for a greater level of tourism market share, it is necessary to widely apply advanced technologies. Application of modern technologies in tourism is one of the most relevant indicators of the development of tourism. After creating a coherent common Lithuanian and Latvian tourism development system, we will achieve an effective result.
The overall objective of cross border cooperation between Lithuania and Latvia is to achieve an even Lithuanian - Latvian border regional development in the social, economic and cultural fields, to enhance, stimulate and support the municipalities and communities across the border, as well as to improve the partnership between the two countries. Cross-border cooperation and its harmonious implementation will substantially improve the development in both sides of the border, ensure active and regular participation in social activities amongst the citizens and the administration. Implementation of mutual activities will ensure a mutual understanding. The closer cooperation between Lithuania and Latvia meets the strategic interests of both countries and should be continuously promoted and developed in various fields. The mutual support, common initiatives, specific projects – not only bring the Baltic countries closer together, but also enhances human relations and a sense of belonging. One of the most important Lithuanian and Latvian challenges for the future, despite the fact that, in a globalized world, integration processes inevitably penetrate into every sphere of life and reduce economic and social disparities, is to continue to focus and strengthen their peoples' culture and preserve national identity. The mutual activities promote a continuous and sustainable Lithuanian - Latvian border cooperation. The project will create a close relationship, which is, hopefully will be maintained even after the completion of the project. By implementing this project together both countries will achieve significantly better results, than by implementing the project separately. The project will not only ensure the objectives of the program achieved – it will be useful on a global scale.