Zatlers asks officials to safeguard foreign tourists

President Valdis Zatlers is asking state and Rīga officials to develop an action plan to ensure the safety of foreign tourists visiting Latvia’s capital city, the president’s press office announced April 29.

In a letter to Interior Minister Linda Mūrniece, Economics Minister Artis Kampars, Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš and Rīga Mayor Jānis Birks, the president said he is concerned with the inability of government institutions to guarantee tourists’ safety and prevent damage to Latvia’s reputation.

The criminal and administrative codes provide enough power to penalize those who break the law, Zatlers said in the letter. He criticized authorities as being either incompetent or unwilling to enforce the law.

A number of foreign governments have for months been warning about increasing dangers facing tourists in Latvia’s capital.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, for example, warns of “an increased number of reports recently of foreign tourists being charged extortionate prices for drinks in bars or having fraudulent transactions debited against credit/debit cards.” The warning adds that some tourists have been assaulted or forced to withdraw money from automatic teller machines.

Similarly, the U.S. State Department cautions tourists in Latvia.

“Street crime is a serious problem, particularly for tourists,” warns the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. “In addition to pickpockets in all public areas, there are numerous scam artists targeting foreigners in the tourist pubs and restaurants.”

Non-Caucasian foreigners and “individuals displaying alternative lifestyles” have been victims of verbal and sometimes physical harassment, the bureau adds.

Recently Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation has warned that Rīga is bad news for Finnish tourists. More than 40 cases of crimes against Finnish tourists are suspected to have occurred in 2008, according to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

The latest issue of the Latvian tourism trade magazine Tūrisms devoted its cover story to the problem of taxi drivers and bar owners who cheat customers. According to the magazine, about 10 bars in Rīga are particularly problematic.

More than 5.2 million foreign tourists visited Latvia in 2007, according to the Central Statistical Bureau in Rīga.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

3 thoughts on “Zatlers asks officials to safeguard foreign tourists

  1. According to, they are Foxy Lounge, Terbatas 2, located below the Fashion Café in the basement of the Vegas casino at the corner of Terbatas and Merkela streets near the flower market; Roxy Klub, Kalku 24, located near the entrance to Old Town on Kalku street; Lord’s Pub (formerly Groks Pub), Kalku 22, located next door to Roxy Klub; Puzzle (formerly Pink Panther), Kalku 22, also located next door to Lord Pub; Mary, Audeju 13, located on the east side of Galleria Centrs Mall; DD Bars; Saxon, Laipu 7, located near Livu Square in a small street to the right of restaurant Steiku Haoss; Doll House a.k.a Zig Zag, Marstalu 12, located to the right of Reformed Church; Bar Fly, Vagnera 8, located near Livu Square in a small street to the right of Roxy, Groks and Pink Panther; Zephry Bar, located near Galleria Center in Old Town, near the youth hostel; Mademoiselle Cigar Club, Valnu street, located in Old Town across from Lounge 8; Nobu Sushi, Grecinieku 28, located in Old Town.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *