A survey commissioned by Lithuania’s hospitality industry showed that Lithuanian citizens over 15 years of age consumed only 13.14 litres of pure alcohol in 2015 – that is 2.26 litres less than the figures provided by the WHO.
The new findings would mean that Lithuanians consume similar amounts of alcohol to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal and Slovakia, and less than in Russia, Moldova, Belarus, Romania, or the Ukraine.
The reputation of Lithuania as one of the countries that drinks the most alcohol in the world severely damages the international image of Lithuania, according to Evalda Šiškauskienė, the president of Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association. She said it was for this reason that business organizations, the Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Confederation of Lithuanian Industrialists, decided to commission the research.
“The WHO based its findings on the Lithuanian Department of Statistics, the data was simply calculated by taking the amount of alcohol sold in the country and dividing it by the population. This estimate should be revised by taking additional factors into account – the shadow economy, the alcohol consumed by tourists and alcohol bought by consumed outside the country by expats,” said Darius Dulskis, the partner of the company Ekonominės konsultacijos ir tyrimai that carried out the research.
“In larger states, which are home to tens of millions of people, the country’s tourism statistics do not make a very big impact on consumption figures but in small countries it can change the numbers significantly. Last year Lithuania was visited by over 2 million tourists but there are less than 3 million people resident in the country.”
Market research agency Sprinter study confirmed that tourists very often buy alcohol as a present to bring home, and usually spend evenings in bars and restaurants, and it has a significant effect on the statistics.
The study also takes into account more than 200,000 Lithuanian expatriates living and working in the states with high excise rates on alcohol – the UK, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.
“This oversight not only distorts the statistics, but also is damaging. Who wants to go to a country where according to the statistics everyone drinks a lot? Although tourist reviews on safety in our country are positive,” Šiškauskienė said.