Tourism companies on Saaremaa preparing for difficult summer ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Kuressaare Central Square
Kuressaare Central Square Source: ERR

There are 350 accommodation companies comprising 7,000 bed spaces in Saare County, and the lack of tourists, can cause small companies to take a hit. TS Laevad, which operates ferry links between the islands of Saaremaa and the adjacent Muhu, and the mainland, transported 85,000 passengers over the Suur Väin strait in May, which is about 50 percent less than the year before.

Rresidents of Saare County can only count on internal tourism and neighboring countries at present. So far, only small numbers of tourists with Latvian and Finnish number plates have been traveling in Saare County, ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Tuesday night.

"There are rather few people. And I think that this will be the trademark of this summer. When asking from the accommodation companies how the summer is going, then primarily, group trips have been canceled," tourism expert Kristina Mägi told the show.

She said that the lack of tourists is likely especially to affect smaller companies.

One example of this is Jurna Tourism Farm, which celebrates its 25th anniversary of activity this year. The owner said that he will remember this year forever.

"This summer could have been the best summer of our 25 years. We would have had 33 groups, all covered with contracts, it was booked. And it was confirmed in February. And now, all of this is canceled. We have nothing, complete zero," Mati Tarvis said.

Both the Saaremaa Opera Days and the Kuressaare Maritime Days are canceled. Granted, a trace will be left of them - there is to be a concert held referencing both of the events in Kuressaare Castle's courtyard.

"Currently, we plan parish-type performances in Kuressaare's central square practically every Saturday, where community centers come out with their small program," Aarne Põlluäär, Head of the Culture Department at Saare County Municipality, said.

However, according to the current data, the status of the "I Land Sound Festival" in Orissaare, which is taking place in July and is currently becoming the most popular cultural event in Saaremaa, is hanging in the balance.

"I myself have some doubts because if we think about the past, it will be extremely difficult to make that decision. But we still have to rely on the restrictions issued by the Health Board and the government. And since there are still 1,000 people allowed today, we can't argue with that 1,000 people rule," Põlluäär said.

In the meantime, according to the Health Board, no new coronavirus infectionc cases have been identified in Saare County - at the height of the pandemic by far the worst-hit region of the country.

"But it can be seen that this information has not yet gone further. In fact, we are currently getting Latvian-Lithuanian phone calls and e-mails saying that they would like to come, but how, and if the ferries are still working," Kristina Mägi said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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