Business-owners that participated in the first Hiiumaa Tourism Fair on Wednesday are hopeful that, despite increased freedom to travel abroad again, Estonian tourists' interest in the country's own western islands will continue to persist. Extending the current brief tourist season could help.
Participants at the Hiiumaa Tourism Fair in Kärdla believed that the lifting of restrictions on international travel won't significantly reduce the number of domestic tourists traveling to Hiiumaa. According to people connected to the sector, being located close by and its uniqueness both speak to the island's advantage.
"July was almost completely booked out for us in January already, and it certainly feels like summer began in May already," said Anu Pielberg, director of Nuutri Holiday Houses in Kärdla. "People have found us again."
She added that now they just have to hope that the island's air and ferry links run smoothly this year.
The peak of the 2021 tourist season was affected by the fact that one of the two bigger ferries linking Hiiumaa to the Estonian mainland was taken off the route to fill in for a Saaremaa ferry that had crashed, negatively impacting the second-largest island's connection to the mainland.
"I think summer will be like it's always been," said Kätlin Kiisk of Hõbekala Guesthouse in Kalana. "In May we may have somewhat felt the impact of people going elsewhere too and being able to travel more outside of Estonia as well, but I still think we'll be seeing a good summer."
Hiiumaa Tourism Cluster director Kristel Üksvärav, who organized Wednesday's tourism fair, said that a key issue for the island will be how to extend the tourist season.
"So it is that it begins ahead of Midsummer, and people essentially start wrapping things up by Cafe Days weekend in August," Üksvärav said, referring to a popular weekend event featuring pop-up cafes across the island. "The [tourist] season being very short remains distinctive of Hiiumaa, but we're working despite this on extending it, as there is a lot to discover in Hiiumaa in the fall as well. Fall has typically been warm and pleasant; winters as well."
Editor: Aili Vahtla