Tallinn mayor: Tourism tax could help improve city's infrastructure ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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

Establishing a tourism tax could help improve the city's infrastructure and boost tourism development, the city also plans to soon revisit the issue of short-term property rental regulations, said Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart.

The mayor discussed developments in tourism with representatives of the sector at a meeting on Thursday. Highlighted at the roundtable was a notion that tourism is an important field for the capital city, and cooperation between Tallinn and tourism entrepreneurs is beneficial and necessary, spokespeople for the City of Tallinn said.

Discussed at the meeting was an idea to establish a tourism tax, revenue from which could be used for developing and marketing Tallinn as a tourist destination.

"The tourism tax is more of a development opportunity than a risk. The funds collected could be allocated for three major areas -- improving the city's infrastructure, boosting low tourism season through supporting cultural events and conferences and marketing Tallinn as a destination internationally," Kõlvart said.

The Tallinn mayor highlighted the importance of allocating revenue from tourism tax to developing the sector in cooperation with its representatives. The tax would be imposed on cruise tourists as well as on visitors staying at tourist accommodations and guest apartments.

Topics discussed at the meeting also included short-term rental properties booked through sharing economy platforms, which are an important issue both from the perspective of local governments as well as hotels. It was agreed that the matter would be revisited in the near future in order to weigh whether or not the area should be more precisely regulated.

Tallinn is visited by approximately 4.5 million foreign tourists a year, and 2.15 million of them stay for at least one night. Around one-third of the latter segment stay at properties for short-term rental.  Over the past four years, the number of guest apartments has more than doubled in Tallinn, ranging from 1,900 to 2,800, depending on the season.

Participants in the meeting included the Estonian Association of Travel Agencies, Hotel and Restaurant Association, Convention Bureau, and representatives of Tallinn Airport, port company Tallinna Sadam and shipper Tallink.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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