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Thursday 22 March 2018

Latvia takes a scalpel to its tourism strategy

David Charter in Riga

Fed up with its reputation as a haven for rowdy stag parties, Riga is giving itself a facelift.

The picturesque Latvian capital has become known for its shapely club hostesses, but is now pinning its hopes on a new wave of tourists who want to emulate their enhanced charms.

Cosmetic surgery can be 40pc cheaper in the Baltic state than in western Europe.

Encouraging the industry is seen by the authorities as a shortcut to a new image for the city, which has suffered heavily from Latvia's economic collapse.

"We want more tourists, more British, coming here for plastic surgery or, for instance, for dental services," said Nils Usakovs, the Mayor of Riga.

"You can still get drunk, and you can also get your teeth repaired, and the prices will be considerably lower."

The surge in stag parties followed the arrival of budget airlines after Latvia joined the European Union in 2004.

Irish Independent

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