Original publication: April 2017
Author: Beata TUSZYŃSKA, Seconded National Expert, with the cooperation of Dylan TYNAN, Trainee
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Transport and Tourism in the Baltic States

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This overview of the transport and tourism sectors in the Baltic States was prepared to provide information for the mission of the Transport and Tourism Committee to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from 22 to 24 May 2017.


1.1. Main economical and societal parameters of the transport system

Transport sector plays an important role in the economies of the three Baltic States (3BS). In Lithuania, the transport and logistic sectors accounted for 13% of the country’s GDP in 2013, while exports of transport services made up around 60% of Lithuania’s services exports. In 2015, the transport sector proved its resilience by falling only 2% overall in the first three quarters, despite seeing heavy losses in the Russian market due to the Russian trade embargo and recession. Lithuania’s main markets are Russia, Germany, Belarus, Denmark and France[1].

Transport and Tourism in the Baltic States

By Peter Hermes Furian / Shutterstock

In Estonia, the transport and storage activities contributed almost EUR 1.5 billion or 8.2% to the country’s GDP. The sector remained the fourth largest economic sector of Estonia, although it shrank by 6.3% on 2014. Estonia’s major trading partners in 2015 included Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, as well as Russia in exports and Germany in imports[2].

In Latvia, transport, transit and storage sector contributed 9.5% to the country’s GDP in 2015[3]. The transit sector was one of the strongest industrial sectors in Latvia.[4]. Following the growth of 2014, the volumes of services provided in the transportation and storage sector in 2015 remained at the level of the previous year. This was largely due to the drop in cargo turnover at ports and railway. In 2015, the volume of freight transport by rail and in ports was lower than in 2014, respectively by 6.2% and 2.4%.

In 2014, the transport and storage services sectors (including postal and courier activities) employed over 220 thousand persons in the 3BS cumulatively, which constituted an average of 4.7% of the countries work force (just below the EU average of 5.1%). Around 63% of them worked for inland transportation (road, rail, pipelines and inland waterway transportation), 1.4% in maritime transport, 1% in air transportation, 26% in warehousing and supporting activities and remaining 8% in postal and courier services[5].

As far as modal split is concerned, in 2014 cars held a majority share in passenger transportation in all 3BS, which varied from 80% in Latvia to 88% in Lithuania. At the same time, buses and coaches constituted the second largest passenger transportation segment with values above the EU average of 9% in the 3BS (oscillating between 11% in Lithuania, 16% in Estonia and 15% in Latvia). The shares of the railways were low in the passenger segment in the 3BS. They ranged between 4.1% in Latvia and 1% in Lithuania in 2014, as compared with the EU average of 7%. However, in freight transportation railways had a dominant market share in all 3BS ranging from 55% in Estonia to 74% in Latvia, which is much above the EU average of 18%[6].


[1]     European Commission – DG ECFIN (Economic and Financial Matters) – Country Report Lithuania 2016, p.35.

[2]     Statistics Estonia – Statistical Yearbook of Estonia 2016 – GDP by economic activity, 2011–2015, p.190 and pp.260-261.

[3]     Latvia’s Ministry of Economics – Report on the Development of Latvia, Jun 2016, p.15-34.

[4]     Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) – Transport and Logistics.

[5]     Eurostat – EU Work Force Survey by Country, Population aged 15-74 and European Commission – DG MOVE (Transport and Mobility) – EU Transport in Figures – Statistical Pocketbook 2016, pp.19-24.

[6]     European Commission – DG MOVE (Mobility and Transport) – EU Transport in Figures – Statistical Pocketbook 2016, p. 37 and 49.


Link to the full briefing: http://bit.ly/601-969

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