Several local governments are requesting the government review support measures for the tourism sector developed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to be made available through the Kredex foundation and Enterprise Estonia.
The statement has been signed by Mayor of Pärnu Romek Kosenkranius, Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas, Mayor of Haapsalu Urmas Sukles as well as heads of the local government associations of Pärnu, Tartu, Viljandi and Põlva counties and leaders of entrepreneurship and development centers in Võru, Valga and Jõgeva counties.
The size of the aid package for the Estonian tourism sector amounts to €25 million with €1 million separately earmarked for tourism enterprises on the islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Vormsi, Ruhnu, Kihnu, Muhu and Manija. Another one million euros will be allocated to tourism entrepreneurs operating in Ida-Viru County.
Support for businesses on the said islands and in Ida-Viru County are not capped at the €1 million separately earmarked for them, which means that if applicants from these regions apply for support in a total sum exceeding their respective special allocations, they will be competing under equal conditions with applicants from Estonia's other regions.
Signatories to the joint statement opined that with this decision, some Estonian tourism regions have been differentiated from others with a million euros reserved and guaranteed to them from the relief package before the application round has even started, which places them in a much more favorable position.
In the present crisis, Estonia should be treated as a single tourism destination and regional differentiation does not ensure the equal treatment of Estonian tourism entrepreneurs, the signatories said. The emergency situation has been declared in all of Estonia and tourism entrepreneurs are unable to fully provide their services regardless of their location.
"It is our position that the said differentiation is incompatible with the principle of equal treatment, unfair to the rest of Estonian regions and not justifiable in any way. We call for the cancellation of separate allocations for the islands and Ida-Viru County," the statement reads.
Editor: Helen Wright