Politicians doubt need for new tourism sector wage support measures

Tallnn Old Town.
Tallnn Old Town. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government does not yet see the need for new wage support measures for Estonia's tourism industry, Minister of Enterprise Andres Sutt (Reform) said on Monday.

On Friday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported Estonia has the second highest coronavirus rate in Europe and recommended countries create travel restrictions for arrivals from the Baltics.

On Saturday, tourism associations sent a letter to the government requesting additional help due to the likelihood of mass cancellations as Estonia's coronavirus rate continues to rise.

Sutt told current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Monday data shows the sector has not been badly hit yet. He said restaurant turnover figures show a fall of 5 percent.

"The decrease [compared to 2020] is not very big, maybe even 5 percent, but this is an average. There are definitely places where it is bigger. And in the case of hotels, we are talking about a decline of maybe one-fifth," he said.

There are no plans to introduce more restrictions, Sutt added.

Kaisa Mailend, head of the hotel chain Hestia, said between July - September hotel occupancy reached between 60-70 percent of last year's figures.

She said there are "danger signs" things are about to get worse due to the high infection rate and increased number of patients in hospital.

"This is also felt today in the number of bookings and cancellations," Mailend said.

Killu Maidla, head of the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said it is time the government took responsibility and imposed new restrictions.

If there was wage support funding from the Unemployment Insurance Fund staff would not have to be laid off and then rehired when the situation gets better, Maidla said.

On Monday, Estonia had a 14-day coronavirus rate of 859.3 per 100,000 people.

Lithuania, which had the highest rate last week according to the ECDC, had a rate of 951.9. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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