From Monday, June 1, travelers from Finland have been able to enter Estonia without the quarantine requirement, as tourists. Interest in hotel rooms and ferry tickets increased among Finnish people straight after Estonia´s government's decision, though initial uptake on ferries has been modest.
There were very few Finns on a ferry that arrived in Estonia on the afternoon of June 1. One of those who arrived in Estonia was Frank, a Belgian living in Finland. He had to come to Estonia for work, and had been waiting for the day for a long time.
"But at the same time, it's the first time that somebody questioned me about the fact that I am a Belgian living in Finland. I got a feeling like Europe doesn't exist anymore," Frank told ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Monday evening.
Peter, from Sweden, has been going on work trips to Estonia via Finland for some time now. He had to fill in the form to stay in quarantine for 14 days.
The Estonian government's decision to allow Finnish tourists to Estonia was announced on Thursday, May 28. Interest for ferry tickets increased immediately. Head of the Board of shipping line Tallink, Paavo Nõgene, said that it´s far from the interest levels seen during previous years, however.
"Because Finland hasn't given its citizens advice to travel, but rather advised them to travel inside their own country, then while we see interested people, people who have come from the ferries to buy some goods, the growth is definitely not explosive," Nõgene said.
The state of Tallink Hotels, who have already had to lay off staff, is worse.
"If we want to joke about it, then yes, the number of reservations in hotels has grown by ten times - instead of one reservation, we have ten for the summer. It takes time for the Finns to start booking again," Nõgene said.
Interest in the Hotel Metropol, which has long been popular among Finns, has also seen an increase in interest, but it is too early to speak about recovery, the hotel says.
"There are more reservations during weekends but the occupancy rate has been poor compared to previous summers. Today, we have mainly had business travelers; within Estonia, there have also been mainly business travelers," Chief Executive at Metropol Spa Hotel Raigo Triik said.
Triik added that what comes next depends a lot on whether Finland will be in favor of its citizens traveling outside of the country or not, a decision it has yet to make, though plans to do so this week.
Finland advises not traveling to Estonia
Despite the fact that Estonia is allowing Finnish tourists to enter the country, the Finnish government advises its citizens to avoid traveling to Estonia and other foreign countries, and for now, the Finnish border stays closed to Estonian tourists. Those working in Finland are able to enter the country.
Foreign Minister of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, said via news agency STT that he hopes that on June 3 at the latest, the government will announce a new decision regarding the border control tourist travels.
The only reasons people can travel to Finland from Estonia at the moment are work or urgent personal reasons and they have to be proven to the border guards at the port. These restrictions apply until June 14 as of the time of writing.
Editor: Roberta Vaino