Joakim Helenius, an investor and former head of Estonian Air's supervisory board, told an annual Äripäev-hosted conference that a Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel would resolve all of Estonia's economic woes.
Despite relative successes, Estonians tend to think they are bigger and better than in reality, remarked Helenius, a Cambridge-educated former Goldman Sachs employee originally from Finland and an Estonian resident.
The reality, he said, is that Estonia has a small market, small workforce and poor access for travelers. And for that reason, the streams of foreign capital will never massively begin flowing in Estonia, he said.
Bringing up a years-old idea, Helenius said the fastest solution to this problem would be to build a tunnel to connect Tallinn to its bigger and richer neighbor Helsinki, where the average salary is many times higher despite being just an 80-kilometer ferry trip from Estonia.
Helsinki's airport has one of the best flight connections in Europe and driving from Tallinn would take just 30 minutes, Helenius noted, saying a tunnel would improve travel opportunities.
Helenius said the estimated cost of such a project is 4 billion euros, which critics say is too expensive to justify the initiative. But a substantial amount of funding could be received from the EU, and Finland would be willing to contribute more financing than Estonia, he said, adding that Finns have so far shown more interest in the idea than have Estonians.