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NOVEMBER 2017 | VOLUME 1 | ISSUE 1

magicLATVIA B U S I N E S S

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EDITORIAL LEAD JOHANNA FISCHER j.fischer@tmf-dialogue.com +49 931 9002 111 EDITORIAL TEAM ULRIKE KIESEL u.kiesel@tmf-dialogue.com +49 931 9002 114 GENERAL MANAGERS JOHANNA FISCHER ALFRED FISCHER GRAPHIC DESIGN VINAYA PRASHANTH www.tmf-dialogue.net www.tmf-dialogue.net/corporate twitter.com/tmf_dialogue linkedin.com/company/1190541 facebook.com/tmfdialoguemarketing instagram.com/tmf_dialogue ISSUED DATE November 2017 PHOTO CREDITS Meet Riga Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) Jurmala Tourism Board COVER IMAGE Landscape Latvia | ©Conor MacNeill

Experiential Destinations is an online magazine format published by tmf dialogue marketing as part of our multi-channel content projects for international destinations. tmf dialogue marketing is a content marketing specialist for the global meeting and congress industry, creating relevance and context for planners of intl. meetings, congresses and events. Contact us for more information around innovative PR and content marketing.

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CONTENTS

6 MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE Latvia–MICE Destination with a brilliant future 6 “We are a tiny country full of surprises”–Lelde Benke 8 Unique venues in Latvia 10

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MEETINGS IN RIGA

BUSIEST HUB IN THE BALTICS

“From Riga with a smile“ –Aigars Smiltans 14

Riga International Airport: Busiest Hub in the Baltics 21

MEET RIGA Official Convention Bureau 15

airBaltic–A competitive player in the European transport market 22

Riga is… 16 Why should organizers come to Riga? 19 MCE Central & Eastern Europe Forum 2017 20

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JURMALA–IDEAL FOR HEALTH-RELATED INCENTIVES

GASTRONOMY, HOTELS, THINGS TO DO

Jūrmala–The best spot for both work and relaxation! 24

Top places to eat 30

Jūrmala–The Baltic Riviera 26

Top 10 sights you can’t miss while in Riga 32

The many venues of Jūrmala 28

What you definitely need to know about Latvia 33

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WELCOME MESSAGES

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hanks to an excellent transport network, Latvia is easy to reach from many destinations within Europe and beyond. Once in Latvia, distances are short so events can be planned both inside the city and outskirts, intertwining urban and natural environments for an exciting programme.

INESE SIRAVA Tourism Department Director Investment and Development Agency of Latvia

Latvia’s large range of venues includes multi-purpose conference hotels in Riga, Jurmala beach resorts, multifunctional halls in Liepāja, Cēsis and Rēzekne, historical castles, exclusive former manor houses and repurposed industrial spaces. The great outdoors are also a resource we’re proud of, and provide a wonderful setting for incentives or teambuilding activities like rafting, hiking and bungee jumping. The possiblities are endless! Our national cuisine is taking on new heights and the Riga-Gauja region has been deemed a European Region of Gastronomy 2017. We can highly recommend contemporary Latvian cuisine which puts local and seasonal produce in the limelight. Typical ingredients include wild berries and mushrooms, game meat, birch sap and quince. All healthy produce from Mother Nature’s larder. We invite you to consider Latvia as your next event destination and look forward to welcoming you.

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WELCOME MESSAGES

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elcome to Riga–the new and trendy #MEETings destination in the Northern Europe! Riga is an affordable, reliable, stable city and a great getaway to the entire Northern European region. The city is easy to navigate with its compact and well organized city centre, close proximity to all main hotels as well as venues and sights. Meeting and event planners can enjoy doing business with ease within Riga.

AIGARS SMILTANS MEET RIGA Director

Riga offers excellent air connectivity to 80 destinations throughout Europe. Riga International Airport is just 9km from the city centre, which makes transfer time short and city guests don’t lose valuable time during their visit. MEET RIGA is the official Riga city convention bureau and a department of Riga Tourism Development Bureau which provides a one-stop service as an independent information source for meetings and events planners to find most suitable local suppliers. Riga is the right choice for your upcoming meetings and events! I invite you to contact us, so we can assist you with your planning needs for your next important meetings and events!

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ince the average business traveler is becoming increasingly experienced in the terms of travelling and destinations, it is ever more complicated to surprise delegates with a destination selection. Rome, Paris, Barcelona? Been there, seen it, done that. Any fresh ideas? What about green business meetings with an extra touch which lies in white-sand beaches and virgin pine forests? Are you searching for exciting team-building activities on the water or an evening of revitalizing meditation on the beach to relax the mind? Jūrmala is the perfect destination for you.

ANNA MANUHINA Deputy Manager Jūrmala Tourism Board

Jūrmala is a safe, green, sustainable, affordable and easily accessible destination from any part of Europe. The city offers a selection of well-equipped conference venues suitable for intimate business meetings, international forums or festive events up to 600 people. Situated along the coast of the Riga Bay, Jūrmala can be fairly titled as a capital of water sports, beach ball games, cycling and hiking which makes a great destination for team-building activities. Plan your next event in Jūrmala and combine fruitful work with healthy relaxation at the seashore!

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MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE

Sigulda

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MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE

BA LT I C D EST INAT I O N L AT V I A–T H E ME E T ING S S E CTO R IS TAK ING MAJO R E FFO RTS TO G ET I TS SHA R E O F INT E R NAT I O NAL CO NFE RE NCE AND CO NG RE SS B U S INE SS . TAKE A C LOS E R LO O K AT T H IS DE STINAT IO N. IT W ILL B E WO RT H YO U R W H ILE !

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ituated in the North East of Europe, Riga is the largest city among the 3 Baltic capitals (the others are Vilnius and Tallinn) and easy to access. The Riga International Airport is practically located half way between Riga and Jurmala, both known as excellent MICE destinations. Another city suitable for conferences, Sigulda, is only 50 km away from the capital. But Sigulda is better known as a destination for incentives and teambuilding. The destinations in Latvia are easy to reach and located close to each other, yet each place has a totally different appeal. Planning an event or conference there will give a special touch to any program and help you discover a new horizon. The new Latvia Convention Bureau was established in May of 2016. It is an initiative of some key players in the Latvian meeting industry –and it will focus on increasing the amount of congresses and meetings in the destination. The CVB Board consists of DMC companies, the Intl. Exhibition Centre and the main professional associations. The National CVB will set up all that is necessary for the regional and international promotion of congresses. Latvia has developed transport, hotel and venue infrastructure, municipalities are ready to participate in destination marketing. Latvia has all conditions for international congresses. On the To Do list is the engagement of Ambassadors from key knowledge areas, preparation of bids and development of congress research.

with a completely modern hotel infrastructure. Thus Jurmala offers unique incentive and meeting possibilities. A good second option to combine smaller meetings with outdoor activities is Sigulda at the entry to Gauja National Park, about 50 km away from Riga. Riga, the capital with a beautiful old city (an UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the centre of international meetings in the country and has a growing hotel infrastructure. It is also worth noting that Latvia has one of the fastest internet connections in the world! The combination of good value for money with unique historical and contemporary venues, great food and many options for wellness, health and relaxation or sports activities are very attractive for event organizers. The congress infrastructure can cater for congresses and events for several hundred pax for example in the Radisson Blu Hotels, the congress centre of the Bellevue Park Hotel or the National Library. The new congress centre is planned to open in 2021 and will be the one missing link to host congresses of a substantial size in the destination! It seems though that this buzz is already attracting more attention – “Business Destinations” listed Riga as one of the top 10 destinations you should visit in 2017!

A centre of Spa treatments and serious medical wellness is being planned in Jurmala, which will be spread along the forests bordered by beaches M A G I C

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MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE

“WE A RE A T I N Y CO U N T RY FUL L OF S U R P R I S E S” – L EL DE B E NK E Interview with Lelde Benke, responsible for international media and marketing in the Tourism Department of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA). Lelde shares some information about Riga in general, and how Latvia is taking steps towards become a leading MICE destination.

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MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE

Lelde, you are liaising between the partners of the MICE industry on behalf of Investment and Development Agency of Latvia. How long have you done this and what have been the greatest steps in developing Latvia as an intl. MICE destination during this time? I became involved in supporting the work of MEET RĪGA in the summer of 2015. Together, we have taken part in trade events like Convene in Vilnius and The Meetings Show in London, as well as published editorial pieces in a variety of specialist publications. Once a year, we arrange a famtrip for international MICE industry specialists. A joint achievement for 2017 was bringing the MCE Central & Eastern Europe Forum to Riga. Of course, we also work with other industry players. For example, my office, the Tourism Department of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), is in charge of building stands at IBTM World and ITB Berlin, as well as selecting participants for the national stands. A recent development is the founding of the Latvia Convention Bureau– an initiative of the private sector and key professional associations. The greatest step is the growing amount of collaboration among all involved parties. After all, we share the same goal which is to attract more events to Latvia.

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Latvia and the surrounding Baltic states: do you co-operate in marketing the area and to what extent? The joint Baltic tourism committee is made up of representatives from the national tourist boards in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. It meets three times a year to align activities. Cooperation is mainly focused on B2B communication channels, the leisure travel sector and long-haul markets –Japan, China, Korea and USA. For example, a Baltic tourism roadshow takes place every year in Japan. A key event is Baltic Connecting which takes place every year in Riga, Tallinn or Vilnius on a rotational basis. The tourism forum is aimed at developing new business relationships between Baltic suppliers and international buyers. Until 2015, the focus was on European markets, however, since 2016 the focus of Baltic Connecting is long haul markets. What do you personally like most about your country? We are a tiny country full of surprises! Within one hour’s drive from Riga you can find yourself at the beach, either picking mushrooms alone in a forest, shooting a bow and arrow at a medieval castle, being pampered in a rural bathhouse or flying in a vertical wind tunnel. It’s very easy to travel from one place to another so you can fit a lot into one visit.

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UNIQUE VENUES IN LATVIA IN LATVIA, THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER MEETING POSSIBILITIES THAN JUST RIGA! SMALLER TOWNS OFFER UNIQUE ATMOSPHERES CLOSER TO NATURE.

CÄ“sis Castle

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MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE

Great Amber Concert Hall | ©Indrikis Sturmanis

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ne of the first options is the Cēsis Concert Hall. The city of Cēsis is a 1 ½ hour drive from Riga and is located within the Gauja National Park. The concert hall itself opened in 2014 and serves as a multi-functional cultural centre on international, national and regional levels. The Cēsis Concert Hall has hosted international conferences, seminars, and meetings as well as music and art festivals! The venue offers a number of different rooms to host events. The greater auditorium seats up to 805, while smaller rooms like the exhibition hall or chamber auditorium seat up to 100. One of Cēsis’ major attractions is the Cēsis Medieval Castle which offers entertainment programmes like medieval games or feasts for groups! One new hotel, Villa Santa, has opened in the area recently – an amazing hotel that has an unforgettable meeting space. And there will be a second hotel opening very soon. Liepāja is great option if you would like to visit Latvia’s coast! The city is very easy to reach since airBaltic offers direct flights from Riga to Liepāja lasting only 40 minutes! Like Riga, Liepāja is also known for its abundance of Art Noveau architecture but also offers the intrigue of a military heritage and a place to relax and collect your thoughts on the beautiful beaches. There are a number of top accommodation options ranging from 5* to 3* hotels as well

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MICE DESTINATION WITH A BRILLIANT FUTURE

Venue GORS in Rēzekne

as great gastronomy choices. Many Latvians love to visit as well! Liepāja also serves as a knowledge hub within the country since it has its own university with an array of study programmes, which could be very interesting for international conferences, seminars, or meetings. The Great Amber Concert Hall opened its doors in 2016 and provides ample space for any event you could imagine. Over eight stories, you can find three concert halls as well as the Art Space Civita Nova, a café and a restaurant. The largest concert hall can seat up to 1000 people while the smallest seats up to 120. Another selling point is the great acoustics–created by German Prof. Karlheinz Müller of Mülller-BBM, a leading specialist in the field. Lastly, Rēzekne is also a great destination for international conferences, seminars or meetings. Rēzekne is one of the largest eastern Latvian cities within the Latgale region. Rēzekne is another local knowledge hub due to its specialized higher education centre which focuses on technology. GORS, the multi-purpose venue which opened in 2013, is a great venue to consider for international MICE events. The largest hall seats up to 1.000 while the smaller one seats up to 220. There are also three smaller rooms, seating up to 60, are a great choice for smaller events or workshops.

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MEETINGS IN RIGA

FROM RIGA WITH A SMILE Aigars Smiltans, Marketing and Communication Director of Meet Riga Convention Bureau about what makes Riga so special. Please tell us the main USP’s for Riga in 3 words. Riga’s main USPs are–affordability, diversity and delightfulness. Affordability–Riga hotels and meeting venues offer rates, which are very competitive compared to other Nordic countries. Furthermore, all hotels offer rooms rates including full hot buffet breakfast (4 and 5 star hotels), freeWiFi throughout hotel and have been recently built or renovated. Diversity–Riga has a multilayer history of various historical periods, which you can see within Riga and also on outskirts of the city. All of those historical periods can also be used to host theme events and enrich programs of incentive and team building groups or as a great platform for a product launch. Delightful–Riga as gastronomic capital of the Baltics offers modern Latvian cuisine, where local chefs are using local fresh produce of Latvian farmers and creates from those products delightfully delicious dishes, which will tickle taste buds of gourmands! Latvian chefs also offer classy food, which is very similar to traditional German food due to the long lasting 700 years of German presence in Latvia. What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to Riga? Riga is famous for its architecture, particularly for Art Nouveau architecture, examples of which can be spotted in the Old Town of Riga 14

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and throughout the central part of the city. Art Nouveau architecture is very refined and detailed–Riga has been proudly named as Northern capital of Art Nouveau. We also have several hotels, which have been built within the historical buildings of Art Nouveau and offer glamorous interiors at affordable rates. The second thing Riga can be proud of is the modern Latvian gastronomy and the diverse restaurant scenery in the city! What is your CVB team doing to attract international customers and to compete successfully in foreign source markets? First of all, Riga is a new Meetings destination in Europe. Local hoteliers and DMCs started to focus on particular niche markets only after EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) organized one of their annual meetings in Riga back in the year 2000. We also had quite a limited number of conference hotels and venues. It changed in last decade when many  new hotels were opening, which have conference rooms. Historical meeting venues were restored and new ones were opening. Riga is still developing its meetings infrastructure and each year it is adding to its existing inventory new hotels with additional rooms and meeting hall capacity. The  MEET RIGA brand was established back in 2011 as an addition to Riga Tourism Development Bureau. We started to promote Riga CVB with the brand name MEET RIGA, being a pioneer with this name and at the moment we are still working on doing  things a little bit different than the rest of Convention bureaus. L AT V I A


MEETINGS IN RIGA

MEET RIGA OFFICIAL CONVENTION BUREAU

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t was only in 2011, when MEET RĪGA, the official Convention Bureau of the city of Riga was founded. Thanks to the focus of the Convention Bureau, led by MEET RĪGA Director AigarsSmiltans, the Latvian capital has gradually earned recognition as an excellent meeting and event destination. MEET RĪGA’s task is among others to help meeting and event organizers to find the most suitable local suppliers in the region. In order to simplify this and to offer the customers even more service, the Convention Bureau has relaunched its website www.MeetRiga.com/en in April 2017. You can find detailed information

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about 250 local service providers (hotels, venues, exhibition centers, unusual venues, restaurants, transportation companies, etc.) available in Riga and surroundings. A special service in the new portal: it is possible to make a single request via the portal, which is sent simultaneously to different service providers. The handling is very simple, uncomplicated and fast. You can add different hotels, DMCs etc. to your request list, “Add to inquiry list”. As in an online shop, you will find a “shopping cart” on the upper right corner of your website – and there you will find your list. You can then send your request to all selected Venues “Send inquiry to all venues”.

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MEETINGS IN RIGA

MEET RIGA National Library of Latvia

…reliable and safe There are many reasons why you should consider the Latvian country for your business…

Riga is…

Politically stable and secure destinations are very important for planners in the present times, – and this applies to Riga and Latvia in general. From January 1 to June 30, 2015, Latvia held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union: more than 200 official meetings took place, as well as further 450 other events – smaller ones but also large international congresses and conferences with several thousand delegates. During the Presidency period, there was not a single disruption case which affected any of the meetings.

…affordable and offers great value for money Whether in the historic event halls or modern conference rooms, highly qualified staff makes sure events run smoothly. The city has a number of excellent venues, where planners can organize events and meetings at affordable prices. They can choose from a variety of possibilities, be it traditional, historical locations such as the Splendid Palace and the National Library of Latvia, or rather unusual places like the Aldaris Beer Museum or roof terrace of Latvian University.

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MEETINGS IN RIGA

MEET RIGA Blackheads House Back in 2016, 360 new hotel rooms have been added to the 7,000 existing ones. In the upcoming two years, this number will rise by another 2,100 rooms. The majority of hotels, also the ones currently in planning, as well as most of the venues, are located in the city center. Following more and more openings, competition among large hotels is increasing – which results in reasonable pricing. For example, if you are planning an event in the Latvian capital in November or February, you can stay in a centrally located 4-star hotel in a double or two-bed room for between 60 and 90 Euro per night per room (including breakfast, free Wi-Fi, taxes). According to research from PriceWaterhouseCoopers about the worldwide hotel situation in 2015, Riga ranked number 1 in the 4-star hotel segment. Main advantages: location, cleanliness and value.

…easy to reach Riga is easy to reach, especially by plane, as it is wellconnected to several German cities. There are 82 weekly flights from Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Dusseldorf to Riga operated by Latvian national airline AirBaltic in code share with AirBerlin and Lufthansa. It just takes 2 to 3 hours to fly to the

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city. The infrastructure is perfect: Riga International Airport is located only 9 kilometers from the city center which makes the transfer easy and fast. The majority of the hotels, meeting or event venues and restaurants are located in the city center.

…a perfect destination for incentives and motivation trips The Latvian capital has a rich and diverse culture which reflects different eras: the German Hanse, the Swedish and Imperial Russian era, Latvian first independence before the 2nd World War, the Soviet period after the 2nd World War and the modern independent Latvia today. All those periods are visible and present in the capital city of Latvia. You can get ideas for various program and conference possibilities after walking through the city. Riga also is a perfect place for incentive programs. MEET RIGA gives you a great number of incentive ideas for your stay in Riga and Latvia such as “Riga Black Balsam Discovery Tour” or the “Opera Backstage Tour” www.MeetRiga.com/en | www.MeetLatvia.com

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MEETINGS IN RIGA

MEET RIGA Freedom Monument

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MEETINGS IN RIGA

WHY SHOULD ORGANIZERS COME TO RIGA? MEET RIGA partners shared unbeatable reasons why organizing an event in Riga is a must!

➊ JANIS PRIEDE Executive Sales Manager for Meetings & Events at Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, the Baltics’ largest business and conference hotel: “Riga today is one of the emerging MICE destinations, a great alternative to traditional destinations, and is still a new, undiscovered destination. The main reasons why Riga is a great choice for your next event are: Easy to reach with more than 80 direct flights to and from many European destinations, Good value for money, Clean and green environment.”

➋ EDGARS KUZMANS Partner & Creative Director at 3K Management, a full service event management company in Riga: “Check our company name for the answer! But if seriously, I could base my answer on our corporate creed and slogan that consist of 3 virtues, values and key elements in our daily work–VISION. PASSION. PERFECTION.” “Everything that my team does and what we generally achieve here in Latvia is based on these M A G I C

principles. Yes, we are still a relatively new spot on the global MICE map. But that is just perfect for any event, because you can easily surprise your guests with Riga and Latvia. And as from my personal experience – they always receive and experience more than expected!”

➌ LIGA HARTPENGA Head of PCO and MICE department, Con-Ex Latvia Tours group: “In my opinion, the best way to evaluate the reasons is the feedback we receive from our clients, partners and event participants. And it is the mix of all together - a city to enjoy with its great architecture, everything is within a walking distance, delicious food and good service with welcoming people.” “Here is a clip from our recent event where you can see the happy faces and the great feedback at the end.”

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MCE CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE FORUM 2017

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rom March 5 to 7, 2017, Riga hosted the MCE Central & Eastern Europe Forum, organized by Europe Congress.

125 business tourism representatives from 17 European countries participated in the forum. Each year this event takes place in a country in Central or Eastern Europe. During the forum, a two-day workshop was held at the Radisson BLU Latvia Conference & SPA Hotel, where service providers had the opportunity to present their offers to potential clients – including conference, congress and corporate event organizers–during B2B meetings. From Latvia, the following DMCs and conference hotels took part in the forum: 3K MANAGEMET, Baltic Events & Tours, Event HUB and Goal Events, Radisson Blu hotel chain, Bellevue Park Hotel Rīga and Grand Palace Riga, as well as Latvian national airline airBaltic. “The choice of Riga as the host of this forum proves that Riga and Latvia is capable of ensuring high quality meetings and events. This is very important to us, as it is attended by tourism professionals, who in the future could become good cooperation partners for our business representatives. We also highly value 20

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the participation of our local service providers in this event, and the support of MEET RIGA efforts to attract to Riga, and the whole country, new conference and congress sector events,” the director of the Riga Tourism Development Bureau’s MEET RIGA brand Aigars Smiltāns explained. Aigars Smiltans continued: “MCE Central and Eastern Europe is a great platform for Central & Eastern European destinations and its MICE Suppliers. For MEET RIGA it was a unique opportunity to showcase our destination to the meetings industry professionals attending this high quality B2B forum in Riga. The organization by Europe Congress is absolutely flawless and this one-stop-shop event offers a great value for money with a great set of event buyers participating. The program is varied and entertaining, I have seen only very satisfied faces throughout the 2,5 days in Riga. All in all, this was a great experience!”

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B U S I E S T H U B I N T H E B A LT I C S

RIGA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: BUSIEST HUB IN THE BALTICS

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hroughout 2016, over 5.4 million people passed through Riga, accounting for almost half of all traffic passing through the Baltic region. Following data release in May 2017, it seems the airport is keeping hold of its title as the busiest hub in the Baltics and is continuing to grow in popularity! At Riga International Airport, 17 different carriers offer 89 destinations in the summer and 60 in the winter. In May 2017 alone, over half a million passengers arrived at the Riga International Airport (this is a 10.8% increase compared to 2016!). Between January and June 2017, over 2.1 million passengers have passed through Riga–this is a 7.4% increase and already accounts for almost 40% of passengers served during 2016. In July, Ilona Līce, Riga International Airport’s chairperson, stated, “Riga airport’s growth significantly exceeds average indexes of European airports, which was 9.6% in July, according to data from ACI. The airport’s index also exceeds its group’s average results: the average growth in the number of serviced travelers was 10.2% in July for the airport group with passenger turnover of 5–10 million passengers a year.”

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In August, 644,800 passengers were serviced at the airport–a 15.3% increase compared to August 2016. The over four million passengers serviced from January to August 2017 are an 11% increase compared to the same time range during 2016. While Riga was the final destination for many travelers, over 1.2 million passengers (about 1/3 of incoming passengers) chose the airport as a transfer hub during their travels to another destination since the beginning of this year. This figure is a 18% increase in transfer passengers compared to 2016. In May 2017, over150 thousand travelers (29.8%) were transferring flights, a 17.7% increase compared to this time last year. Leading into August, the Riga International Airport increased cargo volume by 10% (14,400 tonnes!).Flights from this January to August increased 8% in comparison to last year – over 49,000 aircrafts were serviced! While the Baltic Hub offers 17 different airlines that cater to passengers, airBaltic holds a 53.5% market share of passengers serviced at the airport. The next largest market share holders are Ryanair (15%) and Wizzair (8.8%).

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B U S I E S T H U B I N T H E B A LT I C S

ŠAir Baltic

airBaltic

A Competitive Player in the European Transport Market

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airBaltic

is a successful hybrid of low cost bargain carrier with top-notch full service business class options. With airBaltic, you get the best of both worlds–it is truly the ideal carrier for any traveler. In order to cater to a larger audience, airBaltic offers three tiers of tickets – Basic, Premium and Business. Basic offers the lowest pricing with hand baggage only. Premium offers more flexibility, a fast track security check, seat selection, as well as checked and hand baggage. Business provides the most flexibility, two checked bags, priority seating, in-flight gourmet 3 course meals and more. There is also the possibility to add on meals, extra baggage, or specific seats to the more basic packages. Great for MICE travelers– groups upwards of 8 people are offered special services as long as the passenger list is submitted at the latest one week in advance of the trip. No matter if for business or pleasure, you will find your perfect travel fit. airBaltic is also one of the most advanced carriers worldwide. It was the first in the world to USE the new Bombardier CS300 aircraft–7 of its kind were added to the fleet during 2017. The Bombardier CS300 is not only the greenest aircraft in the world, but it also provides a more enjoyable flight. The aircraft provides wider seats, larger windows, more stowaway space for hand luggage and improved lavatories. It is the greenest in the world because it reduces CO2 emissions by 20% and NOX emissions by an astounding 50%! Over the past three years, airBaltic has also been successful in replacing all paper manuals with iPads! This replacement has lead to increased internal efficiency as well as reduction of paper and fuel costs. 6 million pages of paper–around 350 trees–have already been saved! Starting in 2021, airBaltic will be replacing all the turboprop aircrafts with jets which will free up even more seating for passengers! Although airBaltic may seem relatively unknown the general traveller, the carrier has received a number of distinctions during its 22 years. For the past 5 years, airBaltic has been named the best employer in the transport and logistics sector. airBaltic was recognized as one of the Top 10 airlines globally for innovation in 2012. In 2014 and 2015, airBaltic was awarded for providing the best on-time performance globally. airBaltic has also been recognized in the Baltic most beloved brand Top 100 this year. M A G I C

©Air Baltic This past July, one of the Bombardier CS300 aircrafts arrived in Riga and promptly set a new world record for the fastest turnaround time– it took the airBaltic team only 50 minutes to prepare and send off the aircraft on its first flight from Riga to Zurich. airBaltic offers daily non-stop trips from Riga to a number of destinations like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. Riga is also connected to the other two Baltic capitals, Vilnius and Tallinn. The airline also offers direct flights from Berlin or Munich to Vilnius and Tallinn to Berlin. Other than that, there are currently over 60 destinations available from the Riga base within Europe, Scandinavia, CIS and the Middle East! A few new additions to the summer 2018 season have already been announced including Malaga (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Split (Croatia), Bordeaux (France) and Gdansk (Poland). Starting at the end of October 2017, airBaltics will also start servicing flights to Abu Dhabi. Currently, airBaltic has 30 aircrafts but is planning continued expansion - the 8th Bombardier CS300 will be delivered by the end of 2017 and the addition of three more aircrafts is planned until 2021. After considering the current situation of airBaltics as well as all of the upcoming changes, airBaltics has strengthened its position not only as the number 1 Baltic carrier, but also as a competitive player in the general European transport market.

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J U R M A L A – I D E A L F O R H E A LT H - M I N D E D I N C E N T I V E S

Jūrmala Panorama

Jūrmala The best spot for both work and relaxation! We would like to invite you to organise your perfect event in the biggest resort city of the Baltic States–Jūrmala, and let’s see why…

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• Jūrmala is close. Even from the furthest southern spot of Europe, it takes only 4½ hours by airplane to get to Jūrmala. It takes only 15 minutes to get to Jūrmala city centre from Riga International Airport with more than 80 direct flights. The parking lots are free of charge all year round. • Out of the box. Jūrmala offers not only classic conference halls in the premises of hotels, but also “out of box” venues for events–the legendary Dzintari Concert Hall that has hosted the brightest stars of world music, the hipster train station aka art station “Dubulti”, the Jūrmala City Museum which offers the exciting “Ņight in Museum” meeting, and much more. • Healthy meetings are Jūrmala‘s trademark. They serve not only common coffee breaks here, but combine them with relaxing and/or energizing SPA back massage and fresh smoothies or oxygen cocktails.

for the pirates’ treasures on the beach or dancing traditional Latvian dances next to the bonfire and tasting smoked fish in an authentic fishermen village. • O:zone. Besides the fact that seaside air always feels refreshing, 60% of the city is covered with the pine tree forest which purifies the air. Just being there will do so much for your health! • Spas, spas, spas… Massage rituals, amber therapy, salt chamber, medical mud applications, different water treatments etc. Try them separately, combine them in tailored packages or take advantage of readymade offers. • Support. Jūrmala is the only municipality in Latvia that offers financial support for the organisation of conferences, seminars and interdisciplinary events– even up to 70% of the total expenses. There is so much to tell, but the magazine can only be so long. Therefore, please visit www.visitjurmala.lv where you will find extensive information about organising your event in Jūrmala.

• An Energetic working day starts with yoga lessons on the beach, a look at the sea from on top of the hotel, or Nordic walking lessons along the shore. • Team building. Jūrmala will make your team stronger and closer–try your cooperation skills while hiking wearing bog shoes in Ķemeri National park, searching

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Jūrmala The Baltic Riviera

ealth and Well-being are a huge selling point for Latvia. The country offers endless possibilities for you and your guests to relax and stay healthy during your travels. According to Lelde Benke who is in charge of international media and marketing in the Tourism Department of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), the National Guidelines for Tourism Development 2014-2020 state that health and wellness tourism are one of the most important sectors due to the fact that they combat a key issue for Latvian tourism – seasonality. There is usually a surge of tourism within Latvia that wanes off during the cooler months. With such an extensive spa program available, in addition to MICE opportunities, tourism remains constant throughout the year. The year-round options for healthy meetings and incentives in the city of Jurmala, which is only about 15 minutes distance from the intl. airport in Riga and 20-25 minutes from the Latvian capital city (by car or frequent trains) are such a great new concept. The city perfectly matches the needs for new destinations in a peaceful environment, easy to reach and with great value,

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Jūrmala SPA Hotel

and offers a combination of traditional health treatments, romantic wood houses, nice and comfortable hotels and professional ground handling services – all snugly hiding in the huge pine forest along the Baltic beaches. Latvia has a long tradition in healing spa treatments, based on mud, mineral waters and hot/cold springs in different places. The tourist office in Jurmala has made it their focus to create active programs that particularly fit for incentive travel or accompany meetings and conferences. The beaches are incredibly long with no visible ends and offer a stable sandy underground to perfectly walk, jog or even bicycle along the water without sinking in. Fresh air, smell of pine trees and some really nice hotels offer all a company or an association needs for a refreshing meeting in an aura that promotes healthy and positive feelings for the participants. The spas are health-focused (vs. “only” wellness related), so some medical treatments against back-pain, exhaustion and other work-based maladies can be provided for recovery aside of the meeting. Jurmala offers a range of healthy outside

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programs which are rather unusual and all related to the natural treasures around: seeking amber, fishing on the ice, smoking fishes and enjoying them together with locally-brewn beer, bicycle rally on the beach, sailing and whatever games or sports you can image being possible by using the combination of water, beach, air, forest. Not only does the Jurmala city council offer their support in creating great concept for meetings, it also has come out with a new program in co-financing meetings which are particularly relevant to the city and acknowledge the city’s engagement in combining the 3 main elements 1) health 2) medical treatments and 3) MICE. Any interested meeting planner can hand in his idea of a conference/meeting or incentive which will be held only in Jurmala and apply for co-funding through the city. Depending on the evaluation, Jurmala’s city council might cofinance up to 40 – 50%! As Latvia generally offers great value and professionalism, it is a double benefit for meeting planners to consider this destination for their next programs.

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Dzintari Concert Hall | ©Ansis Starks

Dzintari Concert Hall www.dzintarukoncertzale.lv One of the most popular venues in Jūrmala is the Dzintari Concert Hall which is a perfect example of synergy of nature and architecture.

The many venues of

The Complex consists of an elegant neo eclectic style Small Concert Hall (500 seats) built in 1936, a Great Concert Hall (2100 seats) with superb acoustics built in the 1960s which operates in summer, restaurant (70 seats) and a Chamber Hall.

Jūrmala

The Historical Hall covers 400 m2 with a stage adding an additional space of 80 m2. The usual concert setup has the floor inclined towards the stage. But it can be adjusted for any other event by levelling it with the surrounding floor and having all the chairs hidden under the stage. The small hall renovation project was finished in May 2015. The complex is suitable for the festive activities, business meetings, conferences, concerts and other events. Dzintari Concert Hall is located in the center of Jūrmala, a 2 minute walk from beach, a 15 minute walk from the largest hotels and spas, a 15 minute drive from the airport and a 30 minute drive from Riga. Baltic Beach Hotel www.balticbeach.lv Located directly on the beach of the Baltic Sea and in the center of Jūrmala, within easy reach of Riga’s premier attractions and 15 minutes away from the International Airport; the Baltic Beach Hotel & SPA is the pre-eminent destination for business travelers and corporate events.

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Baltic Beach Hotel Conference Room

The only 5-star hotel in Jūrmala, Baltic Beach ensures each conference is like no other–every event is destined to leave a memorable impression from arrival to the last celebratory toast. Impeccable service complements the surroundings of more than 1100 m2 of conference space, including the elegant hall, Pērle, with sea view. Baltic Beach Hotel and Spa offers a unique combination of high-class conference services and a healthy pastime. The day is packed with short energy-boosting exercise breaks, nutrition lunch and invigorating coffee breaks. Each conference room is set-up with tables, bottled water, fresh juice and fresh fruit/vegetable snacks. Semarah Hotel Lielupe SPA and Conferences www.semarahhotels.com Semarah Hotel Lielupe SPA & Conferences combines stylish function spaces with the city’s most desirable location highlighting the very best of Jūrmala. Nestled amidst fragrant pine trees with a welcoming scent of the ionized seaside breeze from the Gulf of Riga Sea, the Semarah Hotel Lielupe SPA & Conferences is just a 5-minute walk to the beach, within easy reach of Riga’s and  Jūrmala’s premier attractions and a 15-minute drive from the Riga International Airport.  The hotel offers the finest  collection of 13 multipurpose venues for conducting high-level business meeting, seminars, as well as mid to large size conferences and events. The venues feature floor to ceiling windows flooded with natural light, are fully equipped to support the most demanding presentation and communication requirements and can comfortably accommodate up to 600 participants.

Hotel Semarah Lielupe Banquet

luxurious suite–enhanced by a variety of fine dining options and an array of relaxing amenities at the new and spacious SPA & Wellness Centre. Hotel Jūrmala SPA www.hoteljurmala.com Only 10 km from Riga International airport and in the very heart of the resort town Jūrmala, lies the perfect venue for your next event in Latvia–Hotel Jūrmala SPA. The 4 star property offers 190 comfortable rooms as well as a conference centre with 7 halls for up to 700 guests. The largest room can host 350 guests and has a wonderful view over the city and Baltic Sea. Hotel Jūrmala Spa offers a wide choice of catering possibilities from coffee breaks or lunches to gala dinners with shows and exquisite meals. The quality of catering is a milestone for a successful event; a particular attention is paid by working out the best and suitable menus for every client at this venue.   Conference guests can relax after a successful working session in the hotel’s saunas & pools centre and the gym. The spa centre with more than 200 different spa treatments is a right place to relieve stress and gain energy for new business plans. Hotel Jūrmala Spa–a place of inspiration and new ideas!

After a busy day of activities, conference participants and event guests can unwind in their guest rooms or

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ou can find various restaurants with diverse cuisine in Latvia. Most of the restaurants serve modern and contemporary Latvian cuisine but you can also find places that serve traditional food. Latvia rightly is a gastronomic tip in Europe.

TOP PLACES TO EAT

EDGARS KUZMANS, 3K MANAGEMENT, HOT TIP FOR A TRENDY RESTAURANT: I can’t deny my absolute gastro-love for one of Rigas most famous dining spots and forerunners of contemporary Latvian cuisine–restaurant Kaļķuvārti with its chef Inga Cirule (who by the way will be hosting Dinner in the Sky above Riga this summer). I visit them on a regular basis for the last 8 years and they still manage to surprise me every single time! http://www.kalkuvarti.lv But the coolest thing about Rigas restaurant life is that the trendiest spots are even too hot to name! Pop up restaurants for oyster evenings in abandoned industrial buildings or molecular dining in the middle of a cornfield is my idea of a perfect dinner in Riga. And one of such dinners can be privately yours! So let me tease you just a little–https://vimeo.com/103332710

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JANIS PRIEDE, RADISSON BLU HOTEL LATVIJA: I suggest KOYA www.koyarestaurant.com – a great restaurant that can be used for incentive groups. We also have a unique venue in Riga the cocktail lounge “Skyline Bar”: It is Riga’s one and only cocktail lounge in the sky, located on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija and featuring the best view in the city: www. skylinebar.lv. LIGA HARTPENGA, HEAD OF PCO AND MICE DEPARTMENT, CON-EX LATVIA TOURS GROUP: On October 3 2017, the Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga has opened with a restaurant on the top 11th floor with an open terrace facing the Latvian National Opera with its surrounding park

farmers. This means the menu is seasonal, and will change in accordance to what produce is available. Vincents is a 15 minute walk from the Old Town. The staff is very flexible and can arrange a menu, as well as special seating arrangements and decorations for different events–something heavily appreciated in the MICE industry. Founded in 2011, 3 Pavaru Restorans (The Three Chefs Restaurant) is recognized as one of the top restaurants in all of Latvia. This restaurant is especially interesting for the MICE industry due to the different activities it offers. As a group of 5-80, you can cook with one of Latvia’s premiere chefs and create a 4 course meal in 45 minutes! If you would like to experience a bit of culture as well, you are always welcome to embark on a tour of the Riga Central Market with one of the chefs! During the tour the chef will teach your group about traditional Latvian products, as well as the largest market in Northern Europe!

OTHER PLACES Restaurant Vincents, is very well known even beyond Latvian borders, Elton John and Prince Charles are just two of the many well known people who have stopped at Vincents for a bite to eat. The menu is very fresh and local; the chef purchases ingredients directly from local M A G I C

But, maybe the most interesting option isn’t even a restaurant at all. Things like molecular dining in a cornfield or popup restaurants in abandoned locations are very popular within Riga. You will just have to keep a look out for such an opportunity!

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TOP 10 SIGHTS YOU CAN’T MISS WHILE IN RIGA

➊ Latvian Academy of Sciences: For €5, you can go to the top of the building and see beautiful views of the city!

➋ The Three Brothers: Love architecture? The three connected buildings all represent different styles of architecture: Dutch Renaissance, Dutch Mannerism and Baroque. It is believed that these houses were built by members of the same family – although distant relatives since the oldest was built in the 15th century and the newest in the 17th!

©LiveRiga

➌ Riga Town Hall Square: This is more of a general recommendation, since from there you can branch off and see many things within the same area such as the Town hall, Blackhead’s House, the Statue of Roland, and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Live music also creates a great atmosphere for an afternoon walk!

➍ Central Market: You can find anything here for very low prices!

➎ Art Noveau Museum: Since Riga is known for the presence of Art Noveau throughout the city, it is definitely interesting to tour a house built in the style to see how people lived during that period!

➏ Nativity of Christ Cathedral: A beautiful church on the outside of the Old Town.

➐ Freedom Monument: Guarded by two guards at all times, the Freedom Monument honors fallen soldiers during the battle for independence. If you go between 9am and 6pm on the full hour you can even see the guards change!

➑ Riga Cathedral and Dome Square: The Square itself is packed with cafes, shops and things to do. The highlight however, is the Cathedral which was built in the 13th century. ➒ House of the Blackheads: While currently under renovation, the building can also serve as a beautiful venue for meetings, weddings, and other events – worth checking out if you are an event planner looking for a unique location!

➓ Riga Castle: While not the most ornate or beautiful building to see in the city, the castle is rife with Latvian history and serves as the residence for the Latvian President.

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WHAT YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LATVIA

Riga, with more than 4.000 wooden buildings, has more wood left over from history than any other European city.

• Latvians are allowed to change their name for around €70, but if it is really terrible, you are allowed to change it for free!

• A Christmas tree was decorated for the first time in Riga in 1510! The tree was decorated with straw, ribbons and dried flowers.

• •

The longest day lasts over 17 hours in Latvia!

Latvia has one of the highest rates of fashion models in the world and they have the tallest women!

• In Karosta, you can try and escape a soviet prison full with guards, outfits and obstacles!

• The world’s greatest liar, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich Freiherr von Münchhausen, lived in Riga from 1739 to 1750. Latvia loved him so much there is a museum dedicated to him and they even created a coin in 2005 to commemorate him!

• 20.000 white storks and at least 1.000 black storks call Latvia their home!

• Jākobs Jufess was a Latvian born immigrant to the United States. In 1871, he invented jeans! He later partnered with Levi Strauss and the pair patented the pants in 1873.

• Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald is the only Latvian to ever receive a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1909 due to his work on catalysis, chemical equilibria and reaction velocities.

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Magic Latvia November 2017 Issue  
Magic Latvia November 2017 Issue