'Non-working' week brings Russian tourists to Estonian spas
The first week of November was a successful one for medical spas in Ida-Viru County as the number of Russian tourists was up, largely stemming from the "non-working" week imposed in Moscow.
The reason behind Ida-Viru County's success is the "non-working" week implemented in Moscow to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The "non-working" decree lasted from October 30 to November 7 and only essential workers in the Russian capital were permitted to work.
Many Russians used this time to travel, also visiting spas in Estonia. "People are very tired and want to get out of the country. And since we are able to host clients with a finished Sputnik vaccine process is positive. Bold people who take the risk, since crossing borders is always risky, make it to us," said Narva-Jõesuu Medical SPA CEO Karina Küppas.
Spas are very pleased over the return of Russian customers, but their numbers are not too great compared to pre-coronavirus times. 125 Russian tourists visited the medical spa in Narva-Jõesuu in the first week of November. In Toila SPA, which usually saw 60-70 tourists a day, saw half that number in the first week of November.
"It is more the Russian border and not the Estonian border, which limits people. Since Russia only lets people out for medical reasons and we are a medical spa, we can only offer them our treatment package. I think the obstruction is more on the Russian border and not the Estonian border," said Toila SPA Hotel sales manager Anneli Põdra.
While Estonia is keeping borders open for vaccinated tourists, Russian citizens can only exit the country by ship or plane as crossing the land border requires a good reason, such as work, study, visiting close relatives or medical treatments, but not tourism. Estonian medical spas are a window, which allows tourists travel for medical reasons.
"They stay with us for at least three nights, that is the minimum duration they can stay here and they come to rest and improve their health," Põdra said.
The Toila SPA sales manager said the establishment checks for the validity of the tourists' coronavirus certificates before admitting them. Narva-Jõesuu SPA also conducts testing.
"You must have a certificate. And then we conducted rapid tests. That was our desire to improve security and make the environment safer," Karina Küppas said.
Medical spas in Ida-Viru County expect another wave of tourists to come during New Year's celebrations, but that all depends on the restrictions imposed in Estonia at the time.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste