After years of covid pandemic, tourists are returning to Tallinn for the holidays, and pre-pandemic levels have been reached.
Tallinn's winter tourist attraction is undoubtedly the Christmas market, which has received praise from several international publications yet again this year. Tiia, a market vendor for 13 years, told ERR's "AK" that this year there is no lack of tourists.
"They've had enough of the negativity and have come to the Christmas market to find something more cheerful," said Tiia, a Christmas market vendor.
The weekend is completely sold out of hotels, particularly in the Old Town. Killu Maidla, CEO of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants, said that exact figures are not yet available.
"We can actually say that the first half of December has been perfectly comparable to the pre-crisis period in 2019 based on what we are seeing now," she said.
Despite the fact that due to the war, Russian tourists are not permitted to enter Estonia, many Russian citizens visiting relatives are shopping at the Christmas market. As a result, sales are either the same as or higher than they were last year, when there were fewer tourists due to the pandemic.
The full year has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. Tourism has returned by 70 percent compared to 2019 levels. During the first ten months of the year, there were around 2.1 million overnight stays in Tallinn, compared to little over three million during the pre-pandemic period.
Tallinn's deputy mayor, Joosep Vimm, said that the Finns have returned - Finnish visitors make up 50 percent of all tourists, and their numbers have recovered to 85 percent, which is already a significant improvement.
"In addition to Finns, there are also Latvians, Germans and English tourists in Tallinn. And domestic tourism is actually at a much higher levels than it has ever been," Vimm said.
Maidla said that tourist behavior has changed somewhat. People are making more last-minute bookings than before.
"Looking at the entire month of January, there isn't much to be thrilled about, but we know that there will be last-minute bookings. The same pattern held true for the month of December: a week or less in advance, a flurry of bookings arrived one after the other," she said.
Editor: Kristina Kersa