Category Archives: News

Qatar Airways launch daily direct flights to St. Petersburg, Russia – Silvija Travel Tips

Qatar Airways kicked off an important year ahead in Russia for both the airline and the State of Qatar with the touchdown of its first daily direct flight to St. Petersburg on 19 December. 2018 will be a milestone year for Russian-Qatari relations as Qatar Airways sponsors the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the State of Qatar partners with Russia for the 2018 Year of Culture programme, delivered by Qatar Museums.

At a press conference in St. Petersburg today, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, addressed Russian and international media at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he conveyed his vision for the airline in Russia and beyond.

“Touching down at Pulkovo International Airport for the first time yesterday was a significant moment for Qatar Airways. This inaugural flight represents so much more than just a new destination on our global network, it carries with it the weight of our hope and expectations for the future of our airline in Russia and the future of our countries’ ongoing friendship and partnership for generations to come.

“As the national carrier of the State of Qatar, we are proud to fly the flag for our country wherever we go. Our presence in Russia will only be strengthened by the launch of this new route as well as by our upcoming sponsorship of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and by the 2018 Qatar-Russia Year of Culture of which we are a huge supporter.”

H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker also used the press conference as platform to speak out about the illegal blockade against Qatar. He said: “It puts a lot of pressure on both the citizens and the operations of a country when you blockade it – this is unprecedented since St. Petersburg was put under siege during the Second World War. This blockade is illegal because the airspace is above a certain flight level and airspace on international waters does not belong to any country. It belongs to the international community.

“This is a bullying tactic by larger countries on our country to intimidate our political thinking, our freedom, our sovereignty and our independence. They will fail because in Qatar, the people are very proud, like people in St. Petersburg during the Second World War: you were not intimidated, you persevered and you won. And it is the same thing that is happening to us. We will win this blockade and we will make sure that our independence is very strong and our sovereignty is respected.”

Pulkovo Airport Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Vladimir Yakushev, who hosted the press conference alongside H.E. Mr. Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways coming to St. Petersburg is a new historic step in the development of Pulkovo Airport and the city’s tourism industry, and is an event of key significance in the light of the approaching 2018 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Russia.

“With the new daily flights to Doha, the Northern capital and the cultural pearl of Russia, has gained an excellent connection to one of the most modern and dynamic global cities and through it – to more than 150 destinations in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas, on Qatar Airways’ worldwide network. We are confident that the new route will be much-in-demand among the residents of St. Petersburg and Northwest Russia, as well as international travellers planning to visit Russia with leisure and business purposes alike.

“Additionally, cooperation with Qatar Airways, as one the world’s largest carriers, whose fleet has the most modern aircraft of various types and configuration, will enable Pulkovo Airport to deepen its operational expertise as a leading hub in Russia and Northern Europe.”

The launch of this daily direct service to Russia’s cultural capital will increase the airline’s number of flights a week into the country to 28. Already operating to Moscow since 2003, Qatar Airways recently increased its service to the city from twice daily to three times daily to meet growing demand.

The recent relaxation in visa entry requirements for Russian nationals into Qatar has opened up this route to even more passengers wishing to experience Qatar Airways’ five-star service to more than 150 business and leisure destinations across the world.

St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with a population of more than five million as of 2017, is increasingly recognised for its contribution to the country’s growing economy as more businesses set up offices and headquarters here. The culturally diverse city is also famed for the treasures it houses in its numerous museums including the iconic Hermitage Museum, which attracts millions of visitors every year.

With more than 10 tonnes of belly hold cargo capacity per week to and from St. Petersburg on board the A320 aircraft, which serves this new route, Qatar Airways Cargo is delighted to be further expanding its import and export services in Russia. The launch of service to St. Petersburg has increased the overall belly hold cargo capacity to and from Russia, with more than 40 tonnes being transported each way per week.

Qatar Airways will operate its daily St. Petersburg service with an Airbus A320 aircraft, which features 12 flatbed seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system offering passengers various entertainment options.

Qatar Airways has added many new exciting destinations to its network in 2017, including Auckland, New Zealand; Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France and Prague, Czech Republic, to name a few. The airline will continue its rapid expansion throughout 2018 by adding new destinations such as Canberra, Australia; Cardiff, United Kingdom; and Penang, Malaysia to its global route map.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways is one of the fastest-growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world. Now in its 20th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft flying to business and leisure destinations across six continents.

The award-winning airline has received a number of accolades this year, including ‘Airline of the Year’ by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, which was held at the Paris Air Show. This is the fourth time that Qatar Airways has been given this global recognition as the world’s best airline. In addition to being voted Best Airline by travellers from around the world, Qatar’s national carrier also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’

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Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association – Phcuswright USA 2017 – Silvija Travel Tips


Interview with Roger Dow, President and CEO, of the U.S. Travel Association speaking at the Phocuswright Conference, November 2017. The video includes shots of the presentation to  – Winner of the Brand USA Marketing and Innovation Award

Transcript from video interview with Roger Dow.

There’s an overriding message especially in the media, that American doesn’t want people to be here. Further from the truth. What I think the Administration’s been very strong on security, and you have to be strong on security and accessibility. My message to the Administration should be America’s closed to terrorists, and open to everyone else. And that open to everyone else hasn’t happened. But still people separate politics and place. People still wanna come here. We’re seeing good numbers. The real bad thing here is the dollar. The dollar’s so strong that it costs you a lot more if you come from Ireland or if you come from Europe to come to America. So that’s our bigger problem. People wanna blame it on the President, but it’s a lot and most about dollar and global economies. My clear message is it’s the safest place to travel to the U.S. Never been a better place to come. And on behalf of all of U.S. destinations, it’s one big welcome. We wanna see you. We want you to come and spend your money, but we also wanna get to know you.

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Malawi named #3 in top countries to visit in 2018 – Silvija Travel TV

Each year, Rough Guides authors and editors travel tens of thousands of miles, searching out the best destinations, sights and experiences, from new trekking routes and historical trails to underrated cities and conservation success stories, this week they revealed 18 places that should be on your radar in 2018 and Malawi came in at number 3 – number 1 for Africa.
Coming from one of the leading and most trusted travel publishers in the world, this recommendation for Malawi is a huge accolade and one that re-enforced the amazing recent development of the country’s tourism.

Rough Guides comment that whilst Malawi has always been known as “the warm heart of Africa” because of its friendly, welcoming people, “Malawi is fast gaining a reputation as a fabulous safari destination too.” Three of its reserves – Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota – are now run by conservation organisation African Parks which has been busy regenerating them and reintroducing wildlife.

Today, Majete is home to all of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard), which roam its lush rolling hills and riverine landscapes.

This year also saw Liwonde welcome cheetah as new residents to its game-rich plains dominated by the beautiful Shire River snaking its way through the park. More predators, including lions, are due in 2018. And following the world’s biggest ever translocation of elephants, wonderfully wild and rugged Nkhotakota became home to 500 elephants translocated from Majete and Liwonde.

As well as having superb Lake, Landscape, Culture and now Wildlife experiences, Malawi is warm and welcoming and still untouched and unspoilt by mass tourism – offering the ideal opportunity to experience real Africa. This Rough Guides accolade confirms Malawi’s emergence as one of Africa’s ‘hottest’ and most complete destinations.

Take a look at the Rough Guides full list here.
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Ring in the New Year in Time Square and beyond – Silvija Travel Tips

Approximately one million people are expected to gather in Times Square for Iconic Ball Drop with additional celebrations taking place across all five boroughs plus activities for New Year’s Day 2018

NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for New York City, toasts all visitors who intend to gather in Times Square for its iconic ball drop and highlights celebrations of interest across the boroughs for New Year’s Eve. Upon the joyous occasion of the holidays, the City’s celebrations remain timeless.

“Every New Year’s Eve, millions of visitors come to New York City to experience the unique vibrancy and excitement of our five-borough destination,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s president and CEO. “We invite travellers to explore Times Square during its biggest spotlight moment and to take advantage of the many other events happening throughout the City’s neighbourhoods.”

Highlighted below are highly anticipated celebrations in Times Square and beyond where locals and travellers will raise glasses, toast the past and usher in the new year from borough to shining borough.

New Years Eve Ball Drop photo by Julienne Schaer – Silvija Travel Tips

Times Square:

Seven-foot-tall numbers “1” and “8” in 2-0-1-8 are now in Times Square for public photo opportunities through this Friday, December 22. Information available here.

On December 28 from noon to 1pm, locals and visitors will gather in the Broadway Plaza on Times Square for Good Riddance Day, as bad memories from 2017 are torn apart to make room for the new year, with help from Shred-It.

In the lead up to the big night, through December 29, visitors can visit the Wishing Wall to note their hopes, dreams and goals for 2018 on the confetti that will be released at midnight to float over Midtown and the approximately one million visitors who congregate in Times Square for the ball drop.

The 11,875-pound ball, covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, is capable of a palette of more than 16 million kaleidoscopic colors and is mounted atop One Times Square. As it descends at the countdown, a host of nearby venues will serve up new years’ cheer with a view, available here.

Worldwide viewers (estimated at over one billion) will join the revelry by tuning into Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest in Times Square, which will be hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy with performances by Camila Cabello, Nick Jonas and Sugarland planned.

The Times Square New Year’s Eve Live celebration will formally open with a performance by the Tongliang Athletics Dragon Dance thanks to a partnership with Chongqing, China. Multi-Platinum Pop Singer and Songwriter Andy Grammer will headline the musical line-up. Country music singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina will perform a selection of her number one hits and dance crew Kinjaz will also present numbers.

Viewers around the world can also visit, and to watch the annual event.

From east to west, Midtown hotels will ring in 2018 with grand revelry and guests in lavish attire. High above the lights of Fifth Avenue, The Peninsula New York’s Salon de Ning will be transformed into a chic sky-lit penthouse with the East Terrace enclosed and heated, a performance by UK rock and pop cover band The Chip Shop Boys plus ball drop projection at midnight.

Right in the heart of Times Square, the New York Marriott Marquis will host a five-course dinner, unlimited premium open bar and entertainment at
The View Restaurant & Lounge, with 360-degree views revolving completely every hour overlooking Times Square.

One block to the west, The Sanctuary Hotel New York’s Haven Rooftop will offer group packages for its heated and tented New Year’s Eve party. Guests will enjoy a DJ from 8pm to 2am, a prix -fixe dinner and top shelf open bar.

An NYC & Company guide to New Year’s Eve in Times Square is here.

Other NYC Celebrations:

Beyond Midtown Manhattan, countless other celebrations will take place.

The Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island NYE package offers a two-person overnight stay, entry to the glamorous and romantic New Year’s Eve Gala at Nicotra’s Ballroom (7:30–1am) with buffet breakfast for two inclusive. (Staten Island).EVE Ultra Lounge will host an authentic Albanian American fusion music event to ring in 2018. While Staten Island’s Italian influence is well noted, the borough’s Albanian American population is under the radar. (Staten Island).

New York City’s only casino, Resorts World Casino invites those 21 and older to celebrate NYE at BAR360 with live performance by TKA K7 (a NYC-born freestyle emcee who rose to fame in the 80s and 90s.) Guests can also enjoy its 4,200 slot machines and 1,300 electronic table games. (Queens).

 Modernist, industrial chic Z Hotel in Long Island City, Queens, will offer a stay, plus admission to the “Dueling Pianos” rock and roll sing-along in Cellar Bar with open bar and buffet, for under $100 USD on New Year’s Eve. (Queens).

Thai Rock in the Rockaways, Queens, will serve up fine Thai dining, dancing, imbibing and live music from band Leaders of the Shift who will perform “Psychedelic Cosmic Rock N Roll” on New Year’s Eve.(Queens).

 The 8th Annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium takes place prior to New Year’s Eve. Attendees can consider a stay at the historied Opera House Hotel, first built as a performance venue by Broadway producers and designed by the architect of Harlem’s Apollo Theater. (Bronx).

Beginning at 11am on New Year’s Eve day, the Bronx Beer Hall will host “Brunch Brunch Brunch” in the heart of the Arthur Avenue market. (Bronx).

Also on Arthur Avenue, Zero Otto Nove, which boasts Salerno-style cooking and is in the 2018 Michelin guide offers a New Year’s Eve dinner in the “Little Italy” of the Bronx. The restaurant will not remain open until midnight. (Bronx).  

Events On New Year’s Day & Beyond:
Coney Island USA will host their 4th annual NYE celebration in Steeplechase Plaza, with a fireworks display from the historic Parachute Jump. Select boardwalk restaurants and attractions will be open, including B&B Carousell, Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Thunderbolt roller coaster. A digital burst ball drop rings in 2018, followed by a Circus Sideshow Fire Spectacular at 1am. (Brooklyn).

The New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration at Prospect Park’s iconic Grand Army Plaza will celebrate its 38th year. For a truly local, free, family-friendly experience, visitors can join Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, the Prospect Park Alliance and tens of thousands of revelers for the public event. (Brooklyn).

Celebrating its 20th year, the Time’s Up New Year’ Eve Bike Ride & Afterparty will reverse direction, beginning at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel at 9:30pm and ending in Brooklyn with a party at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space. (Manhattan/Brooklyn).

For an unforgettable evening Circle Line will offer their New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise sailing New York Harbour from 9pm to 1am. A DJ and midnight champagne toast add a lively touch to the 21+ to drink, 18+ to enter party. (Manhattan).

The Empire State Building will ring in 2018 with a festive multicolored sparkling LED confetti lighting on Dec 31, 2017. Five minutes before midnight, the building will switch to its signature white lights, sparkling again in the New Year through sunrise on January 1, 2018. Lighting schedule here.


Popular 90s band Phish will return to Madison Square Garden from December 28 to 31. New Year’s Eve attendees are invited to rock into 2018. (Manhattan).

The New York Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve: Bernstein on Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera’sProduction Premiere of Tosca are not to be missed. (Manhattan).

Running enthusiasts can lace up for the four-mile NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park on NYE. After going through security via entrances at West 72nd Street and Central Park West or East 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, registered runners and their +1 will gather at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. Kicking off at 10pm, the race (to which many wear costumes) will conclude by midnight with a spectacular fireworks display at its completion. (Manhattan).

New Year’s Day & Beyond:

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge is free with registration and begins at 1pm at the Stillwell Avenue boardwalk entrance. Participants get free admission to the New York Aquarium and a post-dip warm up at Coney Island Brewing Company and Steeplechase Beer Garden. (Brooklyn).

The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show will be open for visitors until 6pm on New Year’s Eve. Model trains will travel through a miniature landscape of 150+ iconic city structures. This year’s version spotlights Midtown Manhattan, with a new Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building and more on view through January 15. (Bronx).

The 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®—hockey’s highest profile regular-season game—will be held at Citi Field on New Year’s Day. January 1, 2018, will mark the first time the game is held in New York City. (Queens).

The NHL Centennial Fan Arena and Stanley Cup at Madison Square Park will be a free fan event December 27–28 in the lead up to the 2018 NHL Winter Classic. It will feature a pop-up rink, a VR Zamboni experience, photo opportunities with the Stanley Cup and more. Additional information here.(Manhattan).

NYC & Company’s top New Year’s Day activities are available here.

Source: NYC & Company

Cosy Evenings in Vilnius – Silvija Travel Tips

There’s beauty to be found in Vilnius at any time of the year. However, exploring the town in winter also requires knowing about places where you can step inside to warm up and nibble on a little comfort food – Vilnius Tourism have put together a handy guide.

Gražių vaizdų Vilniuje galima rasti visais metų laikais. Tačiau tyrinėjant miestą žiemą būtina žinoti apie jaukias vietas, į kurias užsukęs galėsi pailsėti, užkąsti ir sušilti. Šis trumpas gidas padės jas rasti.

Apsilankyk „Džiugo“ kavinėje ir paskanauk iš lietuviško sūrio pagamintų desertų, kurie puikiai tiks prie kavos ir pakels nuotaiką. Arba stabtelk „Holy Donut“ ir nusipirk „Vaidilutę“ – spurgą su salyklu, medumi ir sėklomis. O jei norėtum paragauti deserto, kurį žino kiekvienas vilnietis, „Rūtos“ parduotuvėje nusipirk medaus torto.

Chaika“ – miestiečių ypač mėgstama vieta. Ši kavinė įsikūrusi mažame name pačioje senamiesčio širdyje ir turi ypatingą atmosferą. Būdamas Užupyje, užeik į „Kmyninę“. Čia rasi tradicinių saldėsių ir visame pasaulyje žinomų desertų. O naudotų knygų knygynas „Mint Vinetu“ turi ir mažą kavinę, kuri yra puiki erdvė tyloje atsipalaiduoti su arbata ir gera knyga.

Padaryk trumpą petraukėlę ir pasistiprink puikiais užkandžiais vienoje iš vilniečių dažnai lankomų vietų. „Pinavija“ prekiauja kibinais ir desertais. „Beigelistai“ pasiūlys kokybiškų beigelių su įvairiais priedais. Ypač džiugina mintis apie pyragą ar blynus? „Pilies kepyklėlėje“ kepa tokius, kurie tirpsta burnoje.

Padaryk trumpą petraukėlę ir pasistiprink puikiais užkandžiais vienoje iš vilniečių dažnai lankomų vietų. „Pinavija“ prekiauja kibinais ir desertais. „Beigelistai“ pasiūlys kokybiškų beigelių su įvairiais priedais. Ypač džiugina mintis apie pyragą ar blynus? „Pilies kepyklėlėje“ kepa tokius, kurie tirpsta burnoje.

Sau patinkantį alų tikrai rasi „Alaus bibliotekoje“, kurios meniu rasi platų gėrimų pasirinkimą iš Lietuvos ir viso pasaulio. Jei norėtum pasijausti kaip vietinis, „Špunka“ turi tam tinkamą atmosferą ir alaus iš mažųjų aludarių. Vilniaus geležinkelio stotyje esantis „Peronas“ – tikra patirtis. Nuliniame perone pačioje stotyje įsikūręs baras siūlo išgerti alaus ar kokteilių neįprastoje vietoje.

Jei ieškai kulinarinio potyrio, apsilankyk „Ertlio name“. Šis senamiestyje esantis restoranas ruošia istorinės lietuviškos virtuvės patiekalus. Užupio „Sweet Root“ puikiai tiks norintiems paragauti sezoninio maisto, o dar daugiau pasiūlymų vakarienės vietai rasi geriausių Vilniaus restoranų sąraše.


Visit Džiugas Cafe to try desserts made from Lithuanian cheese that will tickle your tastebuds and go well with a coffee. Or head over to Holy Donut and grab a Vaidilutė – a donut with malt, honey and seeds. For something sweeter, pop into a Rūta shop and ask for medaus tortas – a layered cake with honey and lemon that’s a true local classic.

If you’re feeling hip, go to Chaika. The cafe’s located in a small house in the middle of the Old Town and has a distinct vibe. If you happen to be in Užupis, Kmyninė is a good choice – there’s a wide selection of traditional pastries and desserts from around the world. If you’re after a quiet corner, pop into Mint Vinetu – the pre-loved bookstore hosts a small cafe and the solitude you’ll find inside is perfect for opening a book.

Take a little time off from exploring the town and pay a visit to some of the locals’ favourite places for snacks. Pinavija offers kibinai (a traditional Karaim pastry) and desserts. For quality bagels, head to Beigelistai. And if pie or pancakes sound like your kind of thing, go to Pilies kepyklėlė – they are experts in both.

Unwind in Alaus biblioteka, with its excellent selection of craft beer from Lithuania and beyond. For a more local feel head over to Špunka and treat your tastebuds to a beer from a Lithuanian microbrewery in a true neighbourhood bar. And if you’d like to find a place that’s popular with locals, go to Peronas. The bar on platform zero of the Vilnius Train Station is unlike any other in town – you’ll find beers and cocktails on the menu.

For a fine dining experience, visit Ertlio Namas. This restaurant puts a modern twist on historical cuisine and offers a real culinary experience. Sweet Root is a good choice for seasonal dishes, but ultimately, you can’t go wrong with any of the top restaurants in Vilnius.


Ambassador Hall’s Remarks at Press Conference for the Samuel Bak Museum Opening – Silvija Travel T

Ambassador Hall’s Remarks at Press Conference for the Samuel Bak Museum Opening on the 15 November 2017.

lt is a great privilege for me to be here today.  The opening of the Samuel Bak Museum in Lithuania is a historic milestone for U.S.-Lithuanian friendship.  We are enormously grateful to the Vilna Gaon Jewish Museum and the Pucker Gallery in the United States for their phenomenal efforts in making this event happen, and many others who have supported this project over many years, including many U.S.  Ambassadors before me – and, most importantly, the artist himself, Samuel Bak.  There is nothing more gratifying for me than to see years of vision and hard work come to fruition.  I am honored to be among such esteemed company.

The Samuel Bak museum showcases the work and life of a truly extraordinary American Litvak artist, and one of the world’s greatest living artists.  We are immensely indebted to Mr. Bak for his life’s work, for his deep connection to Vilnius, for his genius, and for the sheer humanity that he expresses so eloquently through his work.

Sam Bak, we are so proud that you are an American, and that you treasure your connection to Vilnius so strongly that you are entrusting this community with many precious pieces of your life’s work.  You truly represent what is best about both our countries, and you are  making our world a more compassionate and wiser place to live.  We are proud to share you with Lithuania and will celebrate with you later today when you are made an honorary citizen of Vilnius.

It is a great honor and privilege for the U.S. Embassy to have played a role in the creation of this museum.  On both sides of the Atlantic, in the U.S. and in Lithuania, there have always been ardent supporters of Mr. Bak’s work.  They appreciate not only its significant artistic merits, but the artist’s amazing power to communicate the human experience of tragedy and hope.  It is deeply meaningful that his work now has a home here in Vilnius.

We are indebted to the efforts of the Lithuanian government, its cultural and educational institutions, as they embrace and commemorate the Jewish history and culture of this country.  We also commend the people of Lithuania as they discover and reconnect with the voices of their past that have been lost, erased, or blurred.  The permanent display of Samuel Bak’s work in Vilnius is an important step in our joint effort to appreciate the vibrant life that thrived here once and continues to live through his amazing art.

Thank you, Mr. Bak, for sharing your incredible vision with us.  Thanks to you, generations of Lithuanians and Americans will be inspired by it.

Source:    | 15 November, 2017

Vilnius City Council approved the introduction of the Tourist Tax – Silvija Travel Tips

The Vilnius City Council approved the introduction of the so-called tourist tax by the majority of its votes (15 December 2017). Calculations have been made that having introduced this tax, the budget of the capital city should increase by about 2 million euros per year starting from 2019, while the collected funds would be allocated to increase international competitiveness of the city and to improve tourism infrastructure.

A tax of one euro will be introduced as from 1 July 2018. Considering the dynamics of the growth of the number of tourists in Vilnius, the plan is to have the tourist tax contribute an additional EUR 2.28 million to the budget of Vilnius in 2019.

Tourist tax funds are planned to be used to develop tourism infrastructure in Vilnius and to attract tourists to the city. The Council approved specific areas of use of the toll: to increase the awareness of the city, to improve international accessibility of the city (for example, flight development programme), to promote conference tourism and to increase touristic appeal of Vilnius.

According to Inga Romanovskienė, the Head of Vilnius Tourism and Business Development Agency “Go Vilnius”, considering the growing interest in the city of Vilnius and the continuously increasing number of business and recreational tourists, the need for active and consistent international tourism marketing in the city, which would help to effectively expand flight routes and improve the Vilnius city tourism infrastructure thus promoting the international competitiveness of Vilnius, has been increasing.

“The tourist tax will allow the city to implement significant projects enhancing the competitiveness of the city in the region, increasing the attractiveness of Vilnius and improving the tourism infrastructure as well as the emergence of new direct flights to Vilnius”, – said I. Romanovskienė.

Such practice is already used in many European and five Lithuanian cities. A tourist tax is collected in Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome and many other cities in 17 European countries. In some cities this tax is up to EUR 7. In Lithuania, the tax for lodging in hotels is currently collected in five cities: Druskininkai (EUR 1), Palanga (EUR 1), Birštonas (EUR 1), Trakai (EUR 1) and Kaunas (EUR 0.5, which will be EUR 1 as from 2019)). Tallinn is currently considering a similar tax.

The Vilnius City Council agreed with the calculation of the tax on the number of overnight stays in the city. The proposed tax amount per person for a single night stay is EUR 1 as from July of 2018. In the first year, tourist groups ordering at least 10 rooms will be exempted from the tax; benefits will also apply to patients, children under the age of 18 and older students, the disabled and those who plan to stay in Vilnius for a month or longer.

The local tax is calculated on the number of overnight stays of the accommodation service recipient. In the six months of this year, almost 0.5 million tourists stayed in Vilnius accommodation establishments, spending almost 930 000 nights in the city.

Based on the dynamics of growth of the number of tourists in Vilnius in 2013-2016 and the trends of increase of the number of nights spent in Vilnius, the plan is to have about 1.27 million tourists, who will spend 2.28 million nights in 2019. According to expectations, having introduced a tourist tax of 1 EUR per night, about EUR 2.28 million will be collected in 2019.

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Lithuanian-American Innovation Award €10.000 – Silvija Travel Tips

U.S. Ambassador in Lithuania Anne Hal invites interested parties to apply for Lithuanian-American Innovation Award

U.S. Ambassador in Lithuania Anne Hall announces the new round of applications for the annual Lithuanian-American Innovation Award worth of €10.000. Launched in 2016 by the Baltic American Freedom Foundation (BAFF), the American-Lithuanian Business Council (ALBC), and the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, the Award highlights and promotes innovative cooperation between the United States and Lithuania.

“Innovation is critically important to our national economies and a tie that connects Lithuania and the United States,” said Ambassador Hall. “In this centennial year, we are particularly excited to celebrate what we can accomplish when we work together.”

The Innovation Award will be granted to a Lithuanian individual, organization, university, or firm that has developed an innovation in collaboration with a U.S. partner. The Award seeks to recognize creative solutions and developments broadly across business and commerce, academic and scientific research, medicine and health, the environment, energy, and education. Last year’s awardees demonstrated innovation in the genetic editing (Dr. Linas Mazutis and scientists from Harvard University), genome sequencing (Virginijus Siksnys, PhD, et al and DuPont Pioneer), and smart building sectors (Mr. Rimas Gulbinas & Maalka Commercial Building Sustainability Platform).

Any innovative project that demonstrates a clear Lithuania-American link is eligible to win the Innovation Award. The core requirements are an impact or clear potential impact of the innovation, and the clear demonstration of collaboration with a U.S. individual or entity. The deadline to submit application is January 22, 2018.

Two awardees will be announced in late February 2018. First prize will be €10.000 and the runner-up will receive €5.000.

To learn more about the award, and to download an application, visit

Note: Information provided by U.S. Embassy in Lithuania – December 13, 2017

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Photo: 2016 Lithuanian-American Innovation Awards

Lietuvos ir Ukrainos bendradarbiavimas – naujos galimybės verslui – Silvija Travel Tips

Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentė Dalia Grybauskaitė kartu su Ukrainos Respublikos Prezidentu Petro Porošenka atidarė Lietuvos ir Ukrainos ekonomikos forumą.

Tai jau trečią kartą vykstantis tokio aukšto lygio renginys, į jį atvyko daugiau nei 100 Lietuvos ir Ukrainos verslo atstovų. Jo tikslas – dar labiau sustiprinti dvišalius verslo ir ekonomikos ryšius.

Prezidentė paragino abiejų šalių verslininkus pasinaudoti galimybėmis, kurias atveria glaudi Lietuvos ir Ukrainos draugystė bei politinis bendradarbiavimas. Įsigaliojus ES ir Ukrainos laisvosios prekybos sutarčiai prekybos apimtys didėja, auga abipusis verslo pasitikėjimas.

Nuo šių metų pradžios Lietuvos ir Ukrainos prekyba išaugo beveik 25 procentais. Per 3 šių metų ketvirčius Lietuvos eksporto į Ukrainą mastas siekė pusę milijardo eurų.

Šalies vadovė pabrėžė, kad Lietuva tvirtai remia antikorupcines reformas Ukrainoje, nuo kurių sėkmės priklauso ir Lietuvos verslo noras bei pasiryžimas investuoti šioje šalyje. Verslo aplinkos gerinimas yra bendras Europos Sąjungos, Tarptautinio valiutos fondo raginimas Ukrainai, kuris  svarbus ir pačios šalies gerovei. Ukraina Pasaulio banko sudarytame „Doing Business“ indekse per trejus metus pakilo 20-ia pakopų ir užima 76 vietą. Lietuva šiame sąraše yra 16-a.

Prezidentės teigimu, Lietuva ir Ukraina yra pasirengusios pasirašyti tarpvalstybinį susitarimą, kuris neleistų nesąžiningam verslui diskriminuoti trečiųjų šalių darbuotojų ir užtikrintų jų socialinę apsaugą. Tai aktualu ir Ukrainoje dirbantiems žmonėms iš Lietuvos, ir Ukrainos darbuotojams Lietuvoje.

Jau yra nemažai sėkmingo Lietuvos ir Ukrainos verslo bendradarbiavimo pavyzdžių. Į Ukrainą eksportuojami lietuviški maisto, chemijos pramonės, popieriaus gaminiai, daug galimybių bendradarbiauti atveria ir IT, elektronikos, logistikos, atsinaujinančios energetikos sektoriai. Lietuvos įmonės taip pat prisideda prie Ukrainos šilumos ūkio modernizavimo, konsultuoja Ukrainos valstybines institucijas, savivaldybių įmones.

Prezidentės spaudos tarnyba  Penktadienis, gruodžio 8 d. (Vilnius).
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Antras „Brexit“ derybų raundas – sklandiems ateities santykiams – Silvija Travel Tips

Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentė Dalia Grybauskaitė dalyvauja Europos Vadovų Tarybos susitikime, kur tvirtinami pirmojo „Brexit“ derybų etapo rezultatai. Šalių vadovai taip pat tariasi dėl svarbiausių prioritetų antrame derybų etape, kuriame bus kuriamas naujas Europos Sąjungos ir Jungtinės Karalystės ateities santykių modelis.

„Brexit“ derybose jau atsižvelgta į Lietuvai svarbiausius klausimus – Jungtinėje Karalystėje gyvenančių Lietuvos piliečių teisės bus apsaugotos, ši šalis laikysis prisiimtų finansinių įsipareigojimų.

Tačiau, pasak Prezidentės, sudėtingiausi darbai dar priešaky: sutarusios, kaip išsiskirti, ES ir Jungtinė Karalystė dar turės sukurti visiškai naują ateities santykių modelį. Lietuvai svarbiausia, kad jis būtų naudingas abiem pusėms ir užtikrintų glaudžius prekybos bei gynybos ryšius. Tai – ir mūsų nacionalinio saugumo bei ekonominis interesas.

Siekiant padėti Lietuvos, ES ir Jungtinės Karalystės žmonėms bei verslui prisitaikyti prie pokyčių po „Brexit“, EVT tariamasi dėl „pereinamųjų laikotarpių“. Jie padėtų išvengti teisinio vakuumo, iki kol bus galutinai sutarta dėl Jungtinės Karalystės ir ES ateities santykių.

Jungtinė Karalystė – reikšminga mūsų ekonominė partnerė. Lietuviškų prekių ir paslaugų eksportas į Jungtinę Karalystę siekia 1,3 mlrd. eurų, o dvišalė prekyba – beveik 1,6 mlrd. eurų. Ši šalis artima Lietuvos saugumo ir gynybos sąjungininkė. Jos kariai prisideda prie regiono saugumo užtikrinimo, bendra Lietuvos ir Jungtinės Karalystės iniciatyva įkurtos ES strateginės komunikacijos komandos kovai su propaganda visos ES mastu.

Pirmame „Brexit“ derybų etape pasiektas susitarimas su Jungtine Karalyste, kad joje gyvenantys Lietuvos ir kitų ES šalių piliečiai nebūtų diskriminuojami įsidarbinant, siekiant išsilavinimo, socialinės, sveikatos apsaugos klausimais. Jungtinė Karalystė taip pat įsipareigojo laikytis prisiimtų susitarimų dabartinėje ES finansinėje perspektyvoje. Lietuvai tai reiškia, kad finansinė ES parama, kurią esame užsitikrinę iki 2020 m., dėl „Brexit“ nesumažės. Taip pat pasiektas susitarimas, padėsiantis išvengti naujos sienos tarp Šiaurės Airijos ir Airijos Respublikos.

Prezidentės spaudos tarnyba Penktadienis, gruodžio 15 d. (Briuselis).
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