Enterprise Estonia: Tourism services exports may exceed €2 billion mark ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Tourists in Tallinn's medieval Old Town.
Tourists in Tallinn's medieval Old Town. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Tourism services exports are expected to reach €2.06 billion by March, including foreign residents' payments to Estonian passenger transport operators, according to Enterprise Estonia.

The number of foreign tourists' overnight stays in Estonia reached a record high for the fourth consecutive year in 2019, while those by domestic tourists set a new record for the seventh year in a row, Statistics Estonia said on Monday.

"The income from foreign tourists in Estonia at close to $1,400 [USD] per resident, according to the World Tourism Organization, is impressive compared with other European states," said Margus Sameli, director of the Tourist Board at Enterprise Estonia. "It places us at the forefront among Nordic and Baltic states along with Sweden, and exceeds the level of many European states, including France and Italy."

Growth in the number of foreign tourists in Estonia has been prompted by increased interest in nearly all markets, although close to 60 percent of all overnight stays are made by Finnish, Russian, Latvian and German tourists.

"This indicates that in order to increase our revenue from exports, we need to maintain diversity among states from which we are being visited," Sameli said. "With it must also be maintained repeat visits from our main countries, because the number thereof in absolute terms is simply so high that other visits will not be able to compensate them."

Targeted marketing sees results

The Tourist Board director noted that in terms of tourism marketing, in 2019, Enterprise Estonia in many ways focused on Finland by employing managers in Finnish communications and business relations. Also launched were a roundtable of top experts in Finnish tourism along with a number of marketing projects for Estonian destinations.

As a result, overnight stays by Finnish tourists increased in the second half of the year, he highlighted.

In addition to overnight stays at accommodation establishments, rental accommodations also saw an increase. Overnight stays via Airbnb accounted for 7-8 percent of all stays in 2017, increasing to 11-12 percent in 2018 and 14-15 percent in 2019.

According to Sameli, Estonian destinations excel in three areas — food, unspoiled nature and authentic local culture.

"In just a few months, Estonia will be put on the world map as a country for food by the European round of the Bocuse d'Or world chef championship to be held in Tallinn," he noted.

3.8 million tourists stayed a total of 7 million nights at Estonian accommodation establishments in 2019 — 5.5 percent more than during the year before. This includes 4.4 million nights spent by 2.3 million foreign tourists and 2.6 million nights spent by 1.5 million domestic tourists.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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