Athough the number of Finns to visit Estonia fell somewhat in 2017, the resulting gap was closed by tourists visiting from elsewhere in the EU, connected in part to Estonia's EU presidency in the second half of the year, it can be seen from an analysis carried out by travel agency Go Travel.
"Several of our colleagues have noticed a decline in Finnish tourists this year," Go Travel marketing director Anu Vane said in a press release. "How big the decline is will be clear at the beginning of next year, when the official statistics are published."
According to Vane, there are many possible factors involved in the drop in Finnish tourist numbers, including poor weather and an increase in the prices of goods and services. Overall tourist numbers, she added, remained on the rise.
Go Hotel Shnelli director Alver Pupart also noted that Estonia's presidency of the Council of the EU, which began on July 1 and concludes on Sunday, had an effect on the capital city's hotel market and Finnish tourist numbers this year.
"One of the reasons behind the decline in the number of Finnish tourists is definitely that, on many dates, Finns could not find a room in Tallinn's hotels because the hotels were all full due to events connected the the [EU] presidency," Pupart said.
He also noted that the number of overnight stays in Estonia by Finnish tourists had also declined in the rest of Estonia, and Estonian business-owners will really have to make an effort to win back Finnish customers.
According to Vane, however, Russian tourist numbers are beginning to bounce back.
Statistics published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) indicate that Russians are spending 27 percent more money on traveling, and this can be seen in Estonia as well, Vane said. "Although we are still far off the peak period in 2013-2014, it can be said that the direction is positive," she added.
According to Pupart, Estonian accommodation business-owners also cannot forget about domestic tourists, who have been setting records for the year and who like to travel in Estonia for work as well as for pleasure. This year, she added, 20 percent more Estonian tourists stayed at Go Hotel Shnelli this year than during the previous year, including 38 percent more children.
Both Vane and Pupart forecast a slight increase in the number of Finnish and Russian tourists next year, as well as an increase in the number of tourists visiting from Estonia's other neighbors and Asia.
Bookings are already being scheduled for the summers of 2018 and 2019, which gives reason to hope that even better times lay ahead for the Estonian tourism sector, Vane said.
According to Pupart, another positive sign is that the tourism sector is also giving thought to the low season, as several concerts, exhibitions and festivals are being organized outside of the height of summer as well, when more vacant rooms are available and prices are cheaper as well.
Editor: Aili Vahtla