Experts: Emergency situation will impose more restrictions when traveling

Tallinn Airport.
Tallinn Airport. Source: Estonian Aviation Cluster

Representatives of Estonian travel companies have said travelers will need to take longer waiting times, reduced airport capacity and further restrictions into consideration when they leave or return to Estonia.

Speaking on a panel discussion on Vikerraadio's "Reporteritund" on Thursday, Toomas Uibo, Nordica's communications manager, said at the moment it is not clear what the changes will be but there will definitely be more monitoring.

"Unfortunately, air travel is becoming more time-consuming," said Uibo said.

He did not rule out an increase in ticket prices because the company's business model is based on flying with a full plane, but passenger numbers are likely to decline in the immediate future.

For example, for low-cost airlines to operate at a profit, it is important that at 95 percent capacity is met. "If the airline cannot sell the all the tickets, then these existing passengers will, unfortunately, have to pay for these empty seats," Uibo added.

Henrik Hololei, Director General of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Transport, it is very important for the tourism sector that the systems created to stimulate tourism are reliable and that their principles instill in people that travel is becoming safer.

"There must be no set of requirements that looks very good on paper but cannot be implemented in real life. The levels that are set must be reasonable, they must be proportionate and, of course, they must ensure that airplanes can take off again," said Hololei.

Anne Samlik, CEO of the travel agency Estravel, believes security rules at airports will definitely change and it will become mandatory to have a temperature check before entering the airport and to sign health certificates.

However, the introduction of stricter security measures at airports is by no means a new case, she said.

"If we remember after 9/11 (the terrorist attacks of September 11 - ed.), When stricter security rules were introduced at airports, then, today, we are completely used to them. I believe that we will also get used to the inconveniences of this virus," Samlik added.

Piret Mürk-Dubout, Member of the Management Board of Tallink, said it is important to find a balance between comfort and safety when it is possible to travel internationally again.

"First of all, we try to avoid, as much as possible, gathering large numbers of people in one place. Initially, we will start with all vessels only a half capacity, so we only sell tickets for every other chair and every other seat at the table," said Mürk-Dubout.

However, overcoming an emergency situation can also bring innovation to tourism, and according to Mürk-Dubout, it is important to find solutions to ensure that passengers have the same services and opportunities that were previously available.

As a result, ships can pre-order shop purchases and food, and the service is made as contactless as possible.

As the tourism sector is very important for Estonia's income, it is important to market Estonia to tourists correctly. 

Ain Käpa, the board member of the board of the Estonian Hotels and Restaurants Association, said when marketing Estonia for this season, it is definitely necessary to emphasize the keyword "security".

"Tourism gives Estonia eight percent of its revenue, and today it all stands still. I think the word 'security' is one of the most important words in opening up the market," said Käpp.

The show's participants agreed that although the future of the sector is uncertain, domestic tourism will play an important role in restoring it, and opening borders with the Baltic States is a good start.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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