This week's Rally Estonia will bring a record estimated 40,000 fans and spectators to South Estonia, something local accommodation businesses in Tartu and beyond have geared up for, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera'" (AK) reported Tuesday.
The organizers hope for a 20 percent increase in the number of spectators compared to previous years.
The rally's director Urmo Aava said: "Many things are better than they were before; we don't have any restrictions anymore, for one thing."
Rally Estonia had been run for several years before it became a full-calendar WRC event, but since that transition took place during the peak Covid pandemic year of 2020, the inaugural event was necessarily attended by fewer spectators and subject to various restrictions.
"I would venture to say that anyone not in Tartu or South Estonia this weekend will be missing out on a lot," Aava went on.
Accommodation facilities this year will be better than previous times the event has been held, Aava went on, thanks in part to local residents making their homes available to let over the race weekend, as well as more awareness among the business community of the opportunities the race can bring.
Tartu hotelier Verni Loodmaa said that while advance bookings from those taking part in Rally Estonia or involved behind the scenes in some way means many accommodation spaces have been snapped up already, there is still plenty of scope for spectators and those only deciding at the last minute to come.
This will come at a premium, however; whereas advance booking accommodation involved prices around normal rates or up to 50 percent higher, Loodmaa said, the price now is up to seven times regular rates, and may rise even further in the last couple of days before the rally starts.
While Tartu, along with Otepää, is the main focal point for those staying, Urmo Aava said that anywhere within the six counties of South Estonia: Jõgeva, Tartu, Põlva, Valga and Viljandi counties, are viable places to stay in terms of distance from the rally stages.
Up to 40,000 spectators from both Estonia and abroad are expected for race weekend all told.
The range of accommodation types is wide – from apartments and whole houses or summer houses to barns and campsites.
Malle Aigro, whose farm (pictured) lies adjacent to a section of the rally track, has hosted campers for the past three years. She told AK that this happened on a first come, first serve basis, and if people asked, she would not turn them away.
The podium and opening events facilities are being set up in Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats), while the maintenance park and control center will be situated close to the Estonian National Museum (ERM), in the Raadi district of town.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Ode Maria Punamäe.