Despite the declining numbers of Russian tourists in the region, the tourism industry in Ida-Viru County performed relatively well over the last year, largely thanks to an increase in domestic visitors.
With the number of Russian tourists in Ida-Viru County falling as a result of Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, more and more domestic tourists have been exploring the region, says Kadri Jalonen, Ida-Viru County's tourism coordinator.
"In the past, it was only the peak seasons, when things were booked up with foreign tourists, including Russian tourists, and Estonians couldn't get a chance. So now, it has become (more) Estonian. Smaller establishments did very well, and large spas were almost at their 2019 occupancy levels," Jalonen explained.
Before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, almost a year ago, an abundance of Russian tourists in Ida-Viru County was particularly noticeable at the start of the year, when Estonia's eastern neighbor has a long holiday period.
"The beginning of (this) year has been quieter than usual, but that gives us time to renovate and make new plans. This is also a very important and necessary time for any hotel," says Anneli Põdra, sales manager of Toila SPA Hotel.
The tourism sector in Ida-Viru County has also been helped by the increasing number of sporting and cultural events being organized in the region.
"There are also a lot of people who come here due to a strong interest. For example, people who come to learn about the region and not just to consume, but to do it in a smart way. This kind of tourist is also a tax-paying one," said Vladimir Aret, manager of the Narva Hotel.
According to preliminary data, around 250,000 tourists stayed in Ida-Viru County last year. In 2021, at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions in Estonia, the figure was 168,000.
Editor: Michael Cole