Islands See Record Number of Visitors on Midsummer
Last weekend, a record 29,241 people headed to Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, Estonia's two largest islands and iconic destinations for celebrating the Midsummer holiday.
The ferry passenger count was up by 2,400 compared with last year, and a record 9,427 vehicles were transported over to the islands, according to a press release from Väinamere Liinid, the ferry operator.
Monday also marked an all-time daily record for the operator, as 15,422 passengers and 4,727 vehicles were transported back to the mainland from Hiiumaa and Saaremaa, the latter island being the subject of the “Saaremaa Valss,” a treasured folk hit sung by the famed opera star Georg Ots.
On Monday evening, queues for boats leaving Saaremaa stretched to 4.5 hours, compared with just one hour last year. There were just two ferries operating on the route and five more shiploads of vehicles than in 2012.
The operator's service director, Anu Hiiuväin, said the company plans to introduce a third ship to the route, but did not specify a date.
"The development of the islands depends foremost on their connectedness with the rest of the world, and tourism is our future,” she said.