Baltic Sea shipping giant Tallink and the Finnish Embassy in Tallinn find that younger Finns have begun to discover Estonia for whom alcohol is not the main reason for traveling.
Late last year and early 2019 saw headlines in Finnish and Estonian media of Finnish tourists having abandoned Estonia. While the number of overnight visitors from Finland fell for a time, the trend has been reversed once more.
Since July, the number of Finnish tourists and nights they spend in Estonia has been growing steadily. The number of tourists grew by 22,000 between July and September, while overnight stays were up 35,000 between July and October.
"The second half-year suggests Finnish citizens' interest in traveling to Estonia has recovered. We have seen it concern almost all age groups, especially young people. It is a very good trend," said Sirle Arro, head of marketing and communication for Tallink.
Singing Revolution generations replaced
The Finnish Embassy in Tallinn has also noticed growing interest in Estonia among younger generations of Finns.
"The nostalgia generations of the Singing Revolution do not travel as often as they used to. They have been replaced with new generations who come to Estonia to dine, attend concerns and different events. New museums and exhibitions are also attracting visitors," said press adviser for the embassy Hannele Valkeeniemi.
She said that fewer Finns are visiting Estonia for the purpose of buying alcohol. A survey published in August shows that 75 percent of Finns traveling to Estonia are motivated by something other than alcohol.
What is tourism?
Former head of marketing for Viru Hotel, tourism entrepreneur Evelin Org believes it is good the reduction in number of tourists was picked up by the press in both countries.
"It was good in that everyone has gotten their act together now. Enterprise Estonia (EAS) has done good work and hired new people to address the Finnish market. Visit Tallinn will be attending a tourism fair in Helsinki for the first time. Smaller restaurants and other tourist destinations who were perhaps unable to appreciate the extent to which our tourism and economy depend on Finnish tourists before have also gotten their bearings," Org said.
Hannele Valkeeniemi said it is becoming increasingly difficult to define what is tourism and what isn't.
"If someone comes over from Finland to have their car serviced and eats at a restaurant while they wait, is it tourism? It is daily traffic happening where two countries meet."
Editor: Marcus Turovski