Tallinn is making preparations for the holidays that will not include the traditional Town Hall Square Christmas market this year. Handicraft shops and restaurants are awaiting Estonians to visit the capital's Old Town as there is no hope of tourists this year.
Estonian handicraft shops in the Old Town still have customers. People who appreciate local skills and are not easily thrilled by holiday season mass production. Some have learned handicraft themselves and know to appreciate it, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.
However, such local customers number too few compared to the hordes of tourists the Old Town is used to seeing.
The Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union has three shops in the Old Town. One is closed for lack of customers. The rest are looking in wonderment at matryoshka doll salesmen who rent premises from the city. The latter has lowered prices during the crisis.
"The two shops that are still open are locked in very serious talks. We do not have an 80 percent discount," said Liina Veskimägi-Iliste, chairman of the union.
Still, handicraft shops are organizing Christmas exhibits and workshops in the Old Town, including a folk dress festival to be held in the Town Hall Square.
The city has agreed to advertise restaurants that offer special Christmas food and drink menus on its Christmas website.
"All of these cafés and restaurants are included in our Christmas program, meaning that we will be advertising their participation. We have a website called visit.tallinn.ee. Information on all Christmas activities can be found there," said Monika Haukanõmm, Tallinn's City Center district mayor.
Director and catering businessman Peeter Jalakas said he will be closing his restaurant Aed on Monday and that he believes many others will follow.
"The city has not taken a single practical step to help Old Town businesses survive. The first and simplest thing to do would be to offer free parking in the evenings when shows are on," Jalakas said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski