Narva-Jõesuu spa wooing Russian healthcare patients (1)
The spa in one of Estonia’s oldest resort towns Narva-Jõesuu is trying to win back visitors, after the number of Russian tourists has fallen by over 50 percent.
The number of tourists from Russia has been in decline across Estonia since the aftermath of Ukraine crisis brought economic sanctions against the Russian Federation.
The Narva-Jõesuu Spa, a stone throw away from the Estonia-Russia border, has more reasons to be concerned than similar establishments in Tallinn or Pärnu – it has seen 55 percent decline in Russian visitors this year, compared to the same period last year.
Narva-Jõesuu has been visited by Russians for two centuries - in the 19th century and early 20th centuries it was frequented by nobility from St Petersburg, which is less than 150 kilometers to the east, and during the Soviet occupation it was visited in large numbers by residents of the renamed Leningrad, particularly the Russian intelligentsia, many of whom bought summer houses in Narva-Jõesuu or on the outskirts.
For a while, the Russians stopped coming after Estonia regained independence, but the last decade saw the local tourism industry taking off again, only to see the current economies woes of Russia destroy business once more.
The spa has now started to collaborate directly with doctors from St Petersburg to bring Russian patients – those needing aftercare - to Narva-Jõesuu.
The first patients have arrived and Russian doctors are also working at the spa to ensure an appropriate care.
The town council is in the meantime trying other measures to attract more tourists. It has built a 1.6-kilometers long seaside promenade and other attractions. A 15-kilometer bicycle track is also in the works, part of a path from Narva to Vaivara Parish.
Narva-Jõesuu has a population of over 2,600 and most residents are Russian-speaking, although the percentage of native Estonians is slightly higher than in the neigboring city of Narva.