The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is planning a price increase for tickets on passenger ferries serving Estonia's islands from February next year. The prices changes will not extend to island residents.
Whereas currently, a tourist needs to pay €8.40 if in a car and €3 on foot, on weekday ferries to Saaremaa, after the planned increase, the respective prices will be €12 and €4.30, while ticket prices to Hiiumaa are set to rise in the same proportion.
"The price rise is the result of two factors. One is that, as we know, prices in general have changed, while the second is that more additional trips should be implemented. In next year, 500 additional trips will go to Saaremaa and 200 to Hiiumaa. But the price hike is planned in a way that won't affect the local residents, i.e. the ticket prices will remain the same," Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Taavi Aas (Center) said.
The price increase is predicted to add profit in the sum of €1.5 million. The grant that the state is waiting for the ferry lines has been €18 million in the last three years.
Aas said he doesn't think that the price hike will adversely affect the economies of the two largest islands.
"Yes, we have discussed it a lot whether it might have a more serious effect, but I think no one will stop traveling to the islands due to the price increase. When people still travel with their own cars at a time when fuel prices have increased significantly as well, I don't think this will be an issue," Aas said.
The increase in the price of ferry tickets is likely to have the greatest impact on passengers who own a summer house on either island, and therefore travel more, but are not residents. The mayor of Saaremaa has a recommendation for these people, ERR reports.
"As the price for the island residents who are registered here is still the same as before, we invite people to register in Saaremaa and, of course, if this is done before January 1, it would be especially good," the mayor of Saaremaa Madis Kallas said.
Individuals are supposed only to have one registered place of residence in the country.
The last time ferry ticket prices rose on the Kuivastu-Virtsu and Rohuküla Heltermaa routes was six years ago, by an average of 14 percent, but the price increase also affected local residents. This time, the planned price increase planned to be implemented from February 1 will not extend for the local residents.
Editor: Roberta Vaino