RIGA — Latvia’s capital Riga is fed up with unruly British tourists who head to the city for boozy holidays, damaging its reputation among other would-be visitors, its mayor said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Nils Usakovs told the monthly magazine Rigas Laiks that he aimed to attract a wider range of visitors to the picturesque city as the Baltic state tries to battle a deepening recession.
“The only problem is that we have a large share of those British tourists,” said Usakovs.
“If we also had other tourists, then British visitors who piss about all the time would not be as noticeable … Let’s not be politically correct — unfortunately this is their speciality,” he added.
A major sore point has been tourists who urinate on central Riga’s imposing Freedom Monument, a symbol of Latvia’s struggle against centuries of foreign domination.
Visitors have regularly been arrested and fined for relieving themselves on the monument, or for having their pictures taken on it in the nude.
Over recent years, Riga has become a popular low-cost destination for young Britons on stag weekends, the often drunken ritual of partying hard with a groom before his wedding.
Many locals and tourism officials have grown weary of their antics which they see as a turn-off for other visitors.
Usakovs’ outburst is not the first by a senior Latvian official.
Last year, the country’s then interior minister, Mareks Seglins, lashed out at “English pigs” for being a “dirty, hoggish people.”
President Valdis Zatlers rebuked Seglins, saying that while foreigners should obey the law, Latvian officials should not resort to name-calling.
The British embassy in Riga has frequently expressed regret over the behaviour of its citizens but underlined that most are not trouble-makers and should not be associated with the unruly minority.