Record Numbers Visited the Biggest Islands Over Holidays ({{commentsTotal}})

The ferry lines linking two largest islands to the mainland saw record numbers of passengers over the recent holidays, sparking calls for increasing the number of ferries in the summer season.

Over the the period June 20-25, which included the double holiday of St John's Eve and St John's Day (June 23 and 24), there were 81,256 passengers and 27,769 vehicles on the two major ferry links, making for a total increase of 8 percent, reported on Thursday.

The Kuivastu-Virtsu line, connecting the biggest island Saaremaa, saw a seven percent increase with 59,496 passengers and the Heltermaa-Rohuküla line from Hiiumaa island to the mainland saw 21,760 passengers, a 12 percent increase compared to the previous year.

According to Anu Hiiuväin, the service manager of Väinamere Liinid that operates both ferry routes, the demand was equally high on all days, and according to the company, the increase in passenger numbers demonstrates a need to add a fifth large ferry to the route during the summer.

The ferry lines have been the subject of some controversy recently. IRL member Juhan Parts, ousted from the Cabinet along with other IRL ministers this spring, was backing a model where the existing ferry lines would be nationalized. The government did a rethink on that idea last week, saying it would put out a call for bidders.

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