Ida-Viru County shifting focus from Russian to Latvian tourists

Toila Spa Hotel.
Toila Spa Hotel. Source: ERR

The Ida-Viru Tourism Cluster is canceling all promotions aimed at the Russian market and instead shifting its focus to Latvian tourists. In order to fully make up for the gap left by the former, however, the Northeastern Estonian county will have to entice more Finns to visit as well.

The cluster put which group to focus on instead to a vote: Latvian, Finnish or domestic tourists. Latvia won by a narrow margin, but Latvian tourists alone won't make up for the loss of Russian tourism in Ida-Viru County.

"This can only be replaced with Estonia's primary foreign market, which is the Finnish market," explained Kadri Jalonen, Ida-Viru County's tourism coordinator. "This won't go quickly; we had already gotten started on that. Today we decided to remove the Russian market from among our [target] markets, and in addition to Finland will be working on the Latvian market instead."

Hotel Narva, which has previously independently made efforts to attract tourists from France, Germany and Scandinavia, is in support of the new direction.

"This is an excellent decision, as our hotel itself has not taken such steps in the Latvian direction," said Hotel Narva director Vladimir Aret. "We'll get new clients with the help of the cluster."

Toila Spa Hotel, meanwhile, is focusing its efforts this summer on domestic tourists, as it deems Latvia too far from Toila. Finland is closer, however conquering the Finnish market takes time.

"Medical tourists, medical spa tourists are starting to disappear from among the Finns," said Anneli Põdra, director of Toila Spa Hotel's Sales Department. "Finns also want to travel around more already, take trips that are a couple days long. We'll be investing our efforts in such groups too, but this work takes time as well."

Three years ago, Russian tourists accounted for just over a quarter of all tourists in Ida-Viru County. Following the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russian tourism in the county fell by nearly 90 percent.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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