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Russian tourist numbers set to exceed last year's

Russian tourists in Tartu's Town Hall Square.
Russian tourists in Tartu's Town Hall Square. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Russians will make up a significant portion of tourists visiting Estonia around the New Year. While their numbers have yet to recover to boom-era levels, and had also been decreasing in recent years due to the falling exchange rate of the ruble, the number of Russian tourists visiting Estonia appears to be on the rise again.

The biggest wave of Russian tourists will arrive in Estonia during the final days of 2017 and first days of 2018, when the holidays in Russia begin. The first of them, however, have already begun to arrive.

"Why did we choose Estonia specifically? Apparently because our friends wanted to come here, and there are a number of reasons," Moscow native Jaroslav said. "First and foremost apparently because it is closer and cheaper."

"It is nearby, and I read that Tallinn is very fun around Christmastime," said Kristina, a resident of St. Petersburg.

Extra railcars doubling passenger capacity have been added to the Moscow-St. Petersburg-Tallinn train, and additional departures have been added just before and after New Year's Eve.

According to Estonian state-owned railway infrastructure operator Estonian Railways (EVR), the first ten days of December saw a 20-percent increase on year in the number of travelers to Estonia from Russia.

Bus company Lux Express has added a total of 44 extra departures to its Tallinn-St. Petersbug route during the holiday period.

"We are seeing that there will be growth this year too," confirmed Lux Express sales and marketing manager Anna Širinskaja. "It can already be seen that we have seven percent more travelers than a year ago, and nearly all buses are sold out already."

Hotel owners have likewise confirmed increased interest on the part of Russian tourists.

"We are definitely still a ways away from boom numbers seen in 2013-2014, but we can see that the year's figures show that Russian tourists' interest in Estonia has increased moderately," said Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association board chairman Verni Loodmaa.

According to figures released by Booking.com before Christmas, the most popular foreign destinations for Russian tourists spending New Year's Eve abroad this year include Tallinn, Riga, Minsk, Prague and Helsinki.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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