Tallinn's Old Town has been seeing signs of tourist recovery this summer, as the number of foreign visitors continues to grow, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Sunday. However, the total is still only around two-thirds the figure prior to the Covid pandemic.
Many visitors from Finland, traditionally a stalwart of the Old Town tourist trade, have been returning to the Estonian capital this summer, and not only for short stays but for longer breaks too, AK reported.
Returning visitors said they had also found the Old Town as they remembered it from previous trips.
One, Aapo, said: "I can't say that anything has changed terribly. Some businesses have moved to other places and so on, but otherwise there is nothing."
Tiina, told AK that: "We will definitely come back again, because the children were small when we last visited. They definitely want to come back soon."
Meanwhile, one of those very children, Aili, said: "It's a beautiful place and there some are old-fashioned houses here."
Sari and Sonia, both Finnish Kale, a Roma minority who live in Finland and are often visible due to their distinctive, traditional dress, noted that prices had risen significantly since the last time they were in town.
Manager of the Pegasus restaurant, Liis Joost, told AK that while the tourists are returning, many restaurants are struggling to find staff following the lay-offs during the pandemic.
"We are indeed doing fine with regard to chefs, but I have heard in the city generally that there are big problems with these and also that many wait staff have also left the sector - during Covid, they found new avenues of work," Joost, who herself is having to wait tables, told AK.
The range of countries of origin of foreign guests is also narrower, she added: "There have been fewer guests who have Russian nationality, and from my experience - you also don't encounter very many Germans at the table any more." This is partly due to the current conflict in Ukraine meaning Russian tourism has diminished to a trickle.
Rental accommodation in the Old Town, on the other hand, is being mostly occupied.
Tallinn City Government's city center district owns more than 100 rental properties, most of which are currently let out.
There are currently two on offer, Nikita Groznov, the city's senior deputy said, though was unable to put a figure on the proportion of rentals from private owners which had been taken up. Vacancies over a long period can also result in maintenance issues, he said.
"Sometimes it really transpires that, for example, we notice that a facade is damaged or dirty. In that case we try to contact the owner of the building, but sometimes that just doesn't work out," he said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte