Saaremaa has not abandoned the idea of shipping line from Mõntu-Ventspils after a failed procurement last year. It still hopes to start the line next summer and a marketing plan has been developed.
A competition for the contract last year saw only one company, Kihnu Veeteed, apply and it was decided they did not have the right ships to offer the service, website Meie Maa wrote at the time.
Despite this failure, the idea of a new procurement deal has not been abandoned, Karin Närep, the head of the development and communication department of Saaremaa municipality, told ERR on Thursday.
"We are definitely considering a new tender, it is still important for us that this ferry connection can be restored. The exact time of the tender has not been set," said Närep.
She said the municipality has communicated with potentially interested parties in order to avoid a situation where no shipping companies are not interested in the procurement.
"We have realized that it is really difficult to find an operator in the shipping industry who would be ready only for the summer months and with a suitable ship, but we still really hope that we will be able to find such an operator, "said Närep.
A marketing plan is prepared first
On May 28, Saaremaa Parish announced a tender to find the developer of the Mõntu-Ventspils line marketing strategy and plan. Närep admitted that this is a small risk, because now no one can say for sure the route will go ahead.
"We thought that in any case this year we would analyze possible target groups, possible competitive position compared to other routes. At the beginning of next year we will be able to decide whether to proceed with specific marketing activities," said Närep. Interest is still there on the Latvia side too.
If the line were to start, Saaremaa municipality would start subsidizing it, Närep confirmed. According to an analysis previously commissioned by the municipality, the amount required for the first three years of the Saaremaa-Latvia shipping line may reach €900,000.
The previous ferry line from Sõrve to the port of Mõntu and Ventspils, which operated in 2005-2008, was popular among Estonians, Latvians and foreign tourists.
Attempts were made to restart the shipping line from 2017, and in principle the Ministry of Economic Affairs was ready to support it, but it has not yet been possible to launch it.
Editor: Helen Wright