Entrepreneurship minister prioritizes tourist sector post-pandemic plans

Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Andres Sutt (Reform)
Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Andres Sutt (Reform) Source: ERR

Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Andres Sutt (Reform) says that Estonia's tourism sector has to be repurposed for life after the coronavirus pandemic, while the existing ecosystem should be preserved for whenever the pandemic ends.

Sutt said that the situation globally pre-pandemic is unlikely ever to reemerge, meaning support for the sector put in place in the initial wave is no longer appropriate.

Sutt said after a video-linked meeting with sector representatives Friday that: "I am in unanimity with the sector on that we must move towards novel solutions, in which  product development and new business models play a bigger role. It is only in this way that we will be competitive internationally.

More frequent meetings to come

"During the meeting, we went through the burning topics and also discussed the long-term view as to the sector's vision of its own situation after the crisis and where they would need support and help from the state in catching up for life to be restored to normal," Sutt went on.

Support must be future-oriented and appropriate he said, regardless of whether it comes in the form of domestic or EU support, while at the same time the crisis can be a teachable moment for strengthening the sector in future, he said.

Meetings like Friday's, which included representatives of hotel, travel, conference, leisure and transport industries as well as from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications will be a regular feature going forward, BNS reports.

The entrepreneurship and foreign trade position had been pushed from pillar to post during the last administration, with no fewer than four people holding the role in the space of 21 months – one of them for a single day, another an individual who objected to foreign travel (in pre-pandemic times) or speaking English at international meetings.

Consumer rights body distances itself from spokespersons comments on cancellation refunds

Meanwhile a consumer rights body says that a representative who told ERR Thursday that cancelled flights should be refunded within seven days, rather than the several months, adding that this is best guaranteed by buying trips from airlines directly or from companies registered in Estonia, was not the official line of the organization.

The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) said: "We understand that this may have been information unclearly expressed by an employee of TTJA, not the official position of TTJA."

The TTJA statement followed a segment on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK), where the comments were made.

The Estonian Travel and Tourism Association (ETFL), one of the organizations represented at Friday's meeting with Andres Sutt, said that in making the remarks the TTJA had intervened in.

As noted the TTJA has since distanced itself from the remarks.

ETFL director Kaur Kajak said the organization was outraged by the remarks made on AK by its consumer environment department Jaana Tael.

"Jaana Tael mentioned that the biggest problem is faced by people who have purchased airline tickets from intermediary portals, but did not specify that airline tickets can also be purchased from travel companies," the association stated.

The ETFL, a voluntary association of tourism-related employers comprising 78 members, says it also recommends purchasing travel insurance to mitigate risk, including of cancellations.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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