Nature tourism entrepreneurs have already lost one-third of their turnover during the coronavirus crisis.
Domestic tourists and people from neighboring countries have not fully replaced those who came from Western Europe before the crisis, they say.
Nature tourism for the deeply interested may be a niche market, but it brings more than €10 million to Estonia, from Western European nations, entrepreneur Bert Rähni said. There are too few clients from neighboring countries such as Latvia, and Estonia itself, to keep the sector alive, and the entrepreneurs don't see a way to replace them with another market.
Member of an ornithological society in Haapsalu, Tarvo Valker, said that there are 2 million bird-watchers who are members of the U.K's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)´; in the Netherlands, there are 20,000 in the equivalent organization.
"There is a lot of potential there, and also taxable clients. If we are talking about a German or a British client, then one tourist spends more money here than a group of ten Estonians," Valker noted.
Since Germany announced its plan to relax the traveling restrictions from mid-June, Rähni has received many phone calls from their German partners asking what their plans are. Rähni said that it is very important that Estonian decide about relaxing the travel restrictions schedule soon, because Estonia, as a country who has the virus under control, is attractive at the moment, and these kinds of trips are generally planned in advance.
"I have had long phone calls with my partners this spring, and they are very optimistic and saying that exotic destinations will fall off, and the situation in southern Europe is much more intense. They are predicting that northern Europe is the region that will get more tourists out of the situation," Rähni commented.
Tarvo Valker said that it is understandable that in relaxing the restrictions, this may cause problems, since when new cases occur, the restrictions will have to be re-established, but a schedule should be set.
Editor: Roberta Vaino