Island Travel Numbers Pass 2 Million Mark
The number of people traveling by ferry to, from or between the nation's three largest islands of Hiiumaa, Saaremaa and Muhu reached two million in 2013, representing an 7.8 percent increase compared with the previous year.
Journeys to and from Hiiumaa, population 8,400, passed the half-million mark for the first time, with 200,000 vehicles shipped between the island and the mainland, Saare Hääl reported on Saturday.
Close to 1.5 million passengers and 600,000 vehicles traveled on the Kuivastu-Virtsu route, which connects Muhu, population 1,700, and Saaremaa, population 33,000, with mainland Estonia, marking an increase of 4.9 percent (passengers) and 8.4 percent (cars) in 12 months.
Urmas Treiel, head of the Väinamere Liinid ferry operator, said that the growth can be attributed to the general economic growth of the islands. He said that many large investments have been made on the islands, especially into infrastructure, and that more people are investing, moving to or buying summer houses.
An increase in the number of daily trips offered by ferry companies has also played a part in the growth.
In addition to the ferry link, daily flights linking Tallinn to Saaremaa and Hiiumaa also take place and ice roads to the islands are open most winters. Nearly 6,500 cruise ship visitors also landed in Saaremaa in 2013.