With the departure of the “New wave” “fat years” ended. The struggle for the soul of Jurmala

Several years passed after the departure of the contest “New wave” of Jurmala, gradually changing the character of this resort, and in places where tourists usually gather, often you can hear not only Russian language, but the languages of tourists from Western Europe. In turn, Jurmala are concerned that in their town all the louder language of money.

More than ten years, July was the month when Jurmala became one of the centers of the “Russian world” during the song contest “New wave” our big neighbor planted here, landing the stars of show business, led by Alla Pugacheva, Joseph Kobzon and other luminaries of Soviet music. But after the invasion of the Ukraine in 2014, holding such an event in Latvia has become impossible, and “New wave” with his colorful public moved to Sochi.

The part of the owners of hotels and restaurants of Jurmala with nostalgia the days of “New wave”, when for a few weeks with rich Russians could “milk” the impressive amount and the rest of the year to live without worries. It is clear that with the departure of the “New wave” “fat years” ended, but what came instead? Some idea of this gives summer the repertoire of the concert hall Dzintari, which is made for people with very different tastes. In Dzintari will perform all of the idols of Russian public Maxim Galkin, Valery Meladze and Vera Brezhnev, and former Western stars Modern Talking and Smokie, and the Latvian fans of music will appreciate Intars Busulis, Jumprava and Victor Laptenok. Classical music lovers will have a meeting with Elina Garanca, Christine opolais, other stars.

The President of the Latvian Association of hotels and restaurants Janis Pinnis believes that the repertoire of the concert hall Dzintari a good example of how to involve different audiences, and thus should receive a resort of Jurmala as a whole. “In the long term it is definitely more powerful strategy than targeting only one market,” stated, Penis. Statistics of the influx of tourists to Jurmala is the evidence that this strategy works successfully, because it increased the number of tourists from different regions.

Russian village

The flow of Russian tourists in Jurmala in the last few years for various reasons declined, but this year again marked a significant increase by 27%. But even faster growing number of tourists from Lithuania and Estonia, as well as from Western Europe. For example, in the first quarter of this year the number of tourists from Finland in comparison with last year has increased by 95%, and from Norway — 45%.

The head of the local hotels Kurši Hotel&SPA Zane Steinberg confirmed that everything is more of a hotel are tourists from Scandinavia, and more guests from Asia. Head of hotel Amber Botique&SPA Peteris Grinbergs noticed that after the crisis in Jurmala began to return as Russian tourists. To the question about the differences between tourists from Russia and from the West Grinbergs said that in terms of hotel services a little difference: “If a room in the hotel is worth 100 euros per night, this price is the same for Swede and German, and also Ukrainian and Russian. But there are differences in other costs. Western tourists are more predictable, they come to a restaurant, eat, drink a glass of wine and go. Russian tourists are not so easily predictable, their dinner can turn into a long sit-down”.

The costs of the public is not as great as during the “New wave” in Jurmala when on every corner you can meet a Russian millionaire. Their influx has provided a good profit for the hotel and catering business, but many Jurmala was not happy with the “New wave”. “The festival has brought to Latvia pop music is low quality, singing to the soundtrack. “New wave”, but rather, was not a cultural but a political event,” concluded kultursoziologie, the Deputy of the local Duma Dagmara beitnere-Le Galla. In her opinion, during the “New wave” in Jurmala became the “money of the Russian village”, that is not going to benefit the image of the town in Europe.

Now contradictory evaluate the competition moved to Sochi and Jurmala have to think about new ways of attracting money from the public. Deputy Chairman of the local Duma Nikita Nikiforov acknowledged that the tourists leaving the “New wave” has diminished the desire to come to Jurmala, but for others the opposite — Jurmala became more attractive. “However, it should be noted that tourists who had previously come to the “New wave”, were willing to spend more Western tourists in this sense, careful”, — said Nikiforov.

Lose benefits

In Riga, as in most resort towns business is seasonal, the summer should try to earn the lion’s share of the profits for the entire year, and the excesses of the “New wave” this trend only increased. “The waiters will remember the days of “New wave” with a huge tip,” — said the representative of the restaurant business Janis Pinnis.

As the Director of travel portal BalticTravelnews.com IARC Mackiewicz, now the prices in Jurmala leveled off and became more accessible for “normal” tourists. However, the Russian rich have not disappeared, many of them have received residence permits in Latvia have acquired valuable real estate in Jurmala. Critical opinion about the business with a permit from the head of the society for the protection of Jurmala, the Deputy local government Uldis Kronblūms, he believes that this business has changed the face of the city: “Instead of building new hotels to accommodate tourists in the coastal area of Jurmala apartment buildings are under construction, so the resort is becoming less attractive. I talked to a lot of tourists from Russia and from Western Europe. When asked why they chose Jurmala, I answered that like a special aura of Jurmala. Tourists appreciate that Jurmala is different from other European resorts, where beaches are built of concrete monsters. And now we’re losing their own unique benefits. If will be the same as others, Jurmala will not be interesting for foreign guests”.

Threatened base

Another common side effect of the business permit growth of cadastral value and real estate tax that drives many to despair of Jurmala that can’t pay the rapidly rising taxes. “In Jurmala launched a war against the indigenous inhabitants,” — said Dagmara beitnere-Le Galla, worrying about the implications of continuation of past policies. “Jūrmala has historically been a wonderful oasis with beautiful wooden houses, which are rare in Europe. Now, this is all gradually lost. We see how the city has changed since the beginning of the sale of the residence. The architecture of Jurmala, the spirit of the city suffered more damage than in Soviet times”, — said the Deputy.

Town rich people not at all interested that the city functioned as a favorite tourists resort because of the crowd of people will only get in the way. Besides, they are in Jurmala live only in the summer season, and for most of the year luxury houses are empty.

As noted by the writer Anna Zigure, now in Jurmala no targeted tourism and resort policy: “Jurmala promised jobs, but the work on the villas of the rich are provided for a relatively small number of housekeepers, janitors and security guards. We have to think how to attract tourists from Western Europe, and this can only be done by the European environment”. The same opinion Dagmara beitnere-Le Galla: “Jurmala should be formed as part of Europe. It is important for us to designate itself on the map of Europe as a resort with good traditions, and ample opportunities for rest and rehabilitation.”

Latvia has significant advantages in comparison with the resorts of Egypt and Turkey, we have a much more relaxed political environment, and tourists don’t have to worry for their safety. “Latvia is a peaceful country, and for tourists is very important. We have often a rest families with children who want to enjoy a safe vacation,” Zane said Steinberg.

Have to compete with Estonians

An expert in the field of tourism Matskevich noted that our resort has other advantages: “Jurmala complete with Riga is a unique place, because in the world there are many resorts where the beach is so close to the capital. In Paris and Berlin tourists can’t get off the train and after half an hour of the trip is to sunbathe by the sea.” Need to think more about attracting tourists in the off-season. “Tourism is very seasonal dependent on weather conditions. Much safer to develop health resorts and medical tourism, which will allow you to work all year round. A good example of Palanga with its dolphins, where the flow of tourists is almost continuous. Beach season is relatively short, and people are sick and are treated throughout the year”.

Anna Zigure pointed to the positive example of the Estonians, the faster they were able to convert the sanatorium in accordance with Western standards. “Jurmala on attracting Western tourists I had to think back in the 90-ies, but the city leaders have chosen the easiest way. The staff of sanatorium did not know foreign languages, only Russian. And Russian tourists have been preferable, for the cheap cost they were willing to put up with the service of lower quality,” said Zigure. In her view, Jurmala, Latvia, much remains to be done to create attractive to Western tourists environment: “For example, I can’t imagine that tourists from Western Europe will want to walk two kilometres along the beach in search of a toilet. Our man may be, run in the woods or in the sea, and they are not used to it”.

Representatives of the tourism industry recognize the desire to attract Western tourists should not forget about the travelers from the former Soviet Union, for which jūrmala remains a favorite vacation spot. This contributes to the nostalgia for Soviet times, and the ability to communicate in Russian, which is not in other European countries.

The change of generations

The researchers of the history of Jurmala note that this city has always felt the influence of other cultures settled here and Russian aristocrats, and landowners from the Baltic Germans. Now about the influence of these cultures resembles the ambitious project near the Dzintari concert hall. There is built a beautiful Orthodox Church which is scheduled to be completed in September next year. “Undoubtedly, the restored Church of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God will decorate Jurmala — this popular international resort, where tourists from around the world. For guests, the Church becomes an important spiritual value, because, first of all, it is the Temple of God. And others are attracted to its appearance,” — said the head of the Latvian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Alexander.

However, the appearance of the Church is objectionable to many Jurmala, because initially the project provided that the height of the bell tower will reach 38 meters, is three times the maximum permitted height of buildings in the area. “The society for the protection of Jurmala objected not against the construction of the Orthodox Church as such, because historically this place was very beautiful wooden Church. We demanded that respected the historic development of the area”, — said the head of the company Uldis Kronblūms. The Orthodox Church in Dzintari (formerly Edinburgh) was built in 1896, and in 1962 the Soviet regime it was demolished. The restored Church will be much more original. After long discussions the builders have agreed to reduce the height of the bell tower to 28 meters.

The future will show, whether there will be Jurmala attractive for Russian tourists, as each year reduces the generation of Soviet times, for which jūrmala was the standard seaside resort, and in the struggle for the attention of young generations of Latvia has to compete with many other places. Head of tourism Department of the Jurmala city Council Gunta Uspele believes that the generational change does not need to be afraid: “more come, including young people. Our objective is to offer new tourism opportunities for all ages. The wider the offer the more we will want to come and be a tendency to return. In Jurmala many tourists who return here and remain for a long time. And not only from post-Soviet countries. For example, a lot of Finns who visit here not the first and not the second time. In Jurmala has its own charm, which captivates and attracts”.