Estonians have in centuries lived their lives in close relation to nature and keeping cultural traditions alive. We care about it. It have helped us through the soviet occupation and today, while living in cities, we all have our ways to reach out to nature and culture: family cottage in countryside with sauna, jogging or berry and mushroom picking in forests, bog walks in the national parks, surfing, kayaking, fishing, dancing folk dances and singing folk songs. No wonder we have 150-years of song and dance festival with more than 30 000 singers and 10 000 dancers coming together. It is UNESCO listed along with Seto singing tradition, medieval Old Town of Tallinn, Kihnu islander’s traditional lifestyle and South-Estonian smoke saunas etc.
Another good example about caring is World Cleanup Day. It is one of the biggest civic movements of our time, uniting 180 countries across the world for a cleaner planet. This world-changing idea began in Estonia, in 2008. 50,000 people united to clean up the entire country in just five hours.
The main objective of Estonian tourism policy is to increase the international competitiveness of Estonian tourism and to ensure sustainable economic growth by developing tourism services and domestic tourism in a sustainable way. Visit Estonia plays a key role in educating DMOs in Estonia about importance of sustainability and advocates development of sustainable tourism products. Tourism development in Estonia is supporting local traditional lifestyle that creates positive attitude and gives an opportunity for the visitor to experience the authentic. The 3 pillars are nature, authentic culture and local food.
Visit Estonia has developed a program for Estonian destinations and is piloting it with 7 of them: Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Pärnu, Rakvere, Lahemaa, Järvamaa and Tartu. Green Destinations Estonian pilot program is aiming to make locals proud and visitors value it. The program provides destinations a special toolkit to define and develop sustainable measures to be able to act in a more responsible way and offer visitors an overall sustainable experience in the destination.
Estonian tourism enterprises develop their sustainability by applying a Green Key label. The Green Key award is a leading standard of excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. Green Key stands for an establishment’s promise to its guests that by opting to stay with such an establishment, they are helping to make a difference on an environmental and sustainability level.
EHE – Authentic Estonia
Estonian rural tourism enterprises have EHE-label. It is a quality-label for tourism products and services in compliance with the principles of eco-tourism. The objective of the EHE-mark is to promote the principles of eco-tourism among tourism enterprises and visitors.