With value of currency dropping, fewer Russian tourists visiting Estonia
According to Statistics Estonia, 233,000 tourists stayed in Estonia's hotels in September, which was 4 percent more than in September of the previous year. While in general, the number of both foreign and domestic tourists increased, the number of Russian tourists was declining.
156,000 foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments, which was 2 percent more than in September of the previous year. 57 percent of the foreign tourists arrived from neighboring countries Finland, Russia and Latvia, but there were 10 percent fewer Russian tourists than at the same time last year.
Jevgeni Timoštšuk, the sales and marketing manager at Narva-Jõesuu Meresuu Spa, a stone's throw away from the border separating Estonia and Russia, confirmed that Narva-Jõesuu is also seeing fewer Russian tourists. This has a negative impact on the popular resort town, usually frequently visited by Russians.
According to Timoštšuk, the falling value of the ruble, the plummeting Russian currency, is start to have an impact on the tourist flow from the neighboring country. Many ask for special deals and say that they don't plan to spend much on holidays. Some also cancel their vacation in Narva-Jõesuu.
"It is a serious issue for us and we are thinking how to move on. We cannot be sure what will happen to the rubles in few days," Timoštšuk said. "We have to try harder to attract tourists and offer a personal treatment to every single client, to add value.".
Plans include offering Russian tourists cultural, as well as shopping trips. The shopping centers in Narva are also attracting consumers from St. Petersburg. Russian shoppers, hit by rising food prices and lack of some Western commodities, which were banned in retaliation by Russia in August, have recently started to shop in Narva.
The Meresuu Spa receives about half of its customers from Russia - for Scandinavian tourists, its location in Estonia's Ida-Viru County is less convenient.
In a positive news for the Estonian tourism industry, the number of tourists arriving from Asian countries continues to increase. In September, there were 30 percent more tourists from Asian countries staying in Estonia than in the same month a year ago.