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The City of Vilnius takes up leadership in promotion of tourism and business: new agency ‘GO Vilnius’

Vilnius is about to create an urban economy brains centre: an international tourism and business promotion agency ‘GO Vilnius’. As soon as in May the operations profile of the current public institution Vilnius Convention Centre will be expanded, by adding to its structure a ‘GO Vilnius’ team – solely responsible for international tourism, city marketing and promotion of investment.

The functions of the current company are being broadened with a principal to ensure the international competitiveness of the city, attract tourists and business, and see that the infrastructure and the investment environment of the city meet the international standards.

‘Due to the performance of the centre of economic brains and knowledge created in Vilnius, we will improve the competitive environment of the city, create more jobs, and attract tourists willing to learn and spend more time in Lithuania and in Vilnius, as well as potential residents. At the very least, we will improve the communication by air, and will attract more smart and educated employees to work at the companies already operational in the capital, says Remigijus Šimašius, the Mayor of Vilnius.

According to the Mayor, this new organisation will be responsible for the international marketing of Vilnius, which will be instrumental in opening new flight lines and attracting international conferences. Further in the future the city plans to open a service centre for the specialists moving to Vilnius for permanent residence. The changes are being put in place in coordination with the PI Invest Lithuania, the Lithuanian airport companies, considering the experience of the other cities, such as Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Liverpool and other, and the recommendations provided the University of Columbia and the World Bank.

‘Up until recently there was significant overlapping in the tourism activities of Vilnius; both the administration division of the city, and the public institution quite frequently were hardly coordinated. Vilnius publishes two official maps, those are loosely interlinking or coordinated marketing publications, the city is being introduced at quite a number of international events, however, the investment return of that activity has been hardly ever estimated. In the business attraction area the coordination was absent whatsoever. Such developments mean not only a better measurable efficient performance, but also a more efficient utilisation of the budget for the international marketing to attract tourists and businesses’, says A. Selemonaitė.

According to the Assistant to the Mayor, earlier there was not a single division in the administration specifically responsible for the economic product of the city, i.e. for the analysis and dissemination of the information in what respect Vilnius is more attractive for business than Tallinn, Riga or Helsinki; a division uniting the economic, industrial and technology zones of the city, concerned with enhancing the international rating of the city, and finally, attracting talented specialists and the international communication.

The organisation will have explicit requirements for the results. In the tourism area, the results will be measured in terms of the increase in the number of tourists and overnight accommodation, increase in of tourists’ spending, and attraction of tourists in low season, development of new packages of services for tourists. In the business area, the measurement units will be the company’s contribution to attracting new technology companies, and creating jobs in Vilnius, development of flight routes, delivered systemic improvements in the area of business and high qualification specialists attracted to the city. ‘For Vilnius to become a centre of attraction of direct foreign investment we have to deliver a set of measures that will be instrumental in attracting investors. First of all we should look at the city as a product which needs to be constantly developed having regard to the changes in the environment, while on a regular bass increasing its visibility and attractiveness. Vilnius not only has to appropriately welcome the investor, but to also create the conditions prompting the investor or a talent to decide to stay and become a resident of the city. ‘These should be the main objectives of the agency’, says Mantas Katinas, head of PI Invest Lithuania, a partner for the future agency.

The Agency intends to employ total 34 specialists in tourism, business and marketing. The operations of the Agency will be funded from the resources that were saved having optimised the other companies and entities of the City of Vilnius that earlier were engaged in mutually loosely coordinated investment activity. One of such companies is Start Vilnius that is on a liquidation row and will be merged with UAB Vilniaus vystymo kompanija.