Foreign trade minister highlights tourism's economic significance

Minister for Foreign Trade and IT Kaimar Karu.
Minister for Foreign Trade and IT Kaimar Karu. Source: ERR

Tourism is significant for Estonia's economy, and the sector must do more to attract high-yield visitors, says Minister for Foreign Trade and IT Kaimar Karu.

Karu made his comments in connection with a meeting he had Thursday with tourism industry representatives.

"Tourism and the products and services related thereto greatly affect all Estonia's economic indicators, including export and investments, employment and regional development," Karu said in a press release, according to BNS.

Karu says tourism amounts to 8 percent of Estonia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employs over 22,000 people.

"This is why it is important to make a joint effort toward Estonia becoming an attractive travel destination that offers a variety of experiences and motivates both foreign as well as domestic tourists to stay for a longer time in interesting locations across Estonia," Karu added.

Key principles in the sector are sustainable development and balance between the natural and visitor environments, he said, and what he called high-yield visitors in particular should be attracted, in part via Estonia's natural and cultural selling points.

"We should also focus more on introducing Estonia's unique assets and tourism products, such as our unspoiled nature, clean food and rich culture. They hold the key role in terms of product development, strategic management of locations as well as comprehensive development of the visitor journey across Estonia," he said.

The meeting covered 2021-2024 tourism program, including a focuse on boosting Estonia's reputation as a destination of international conference and business tourism.

"It is crucial that an international conference center attracting more business tourists should be built in Estonia using public-private cooperation. For that, we definitely also need good air connections, which in turn create the prerequisites for the development of tourism," Karu said.


Estonia was visited in 2019 by close to 60,000 conference delegates, a 10 percent growth on year, according to BNS.

3.8 million tourists stayed in Estonian accommodation establishments in 2019, BNS reports, which was 5.5 percent more than the year before. 2.3 million of these were foreign tourists, with domestic tourists totaling 1.5 million (since Estonia's population is 1.3 million, it is likely these figures refer to tourism stays at any time, rather than numbers of people-ed.).

Tourism services exports are expected to reach €2.06 billion by March this year, it is reported.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association (EHRL), the Association of Travel Agents (ETL), the Estonian Convention Bureau (ECB), the Estonian Spa Association (Eesti Spaaliit), the NGO Estonian Rural Tourism (Eesti Maaturism MTÜ), Enterprise Estonia, the Tourist Board and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, according to BNS.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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