In addition to regular marketing and communication activities, Sameli also highlighted the contribution of the entire tourism sector to increasing the reasons for travelling: new or renovated hotels emerged in Tallinn, Fotografiska that is highly valued among Finns was opened, several attractions were launched, and the Estonian Song Celebration and the Metallica concert also attracted the interest of foreign visitors in the summertime. “Domestic tourism and travelling with a smaller footprint in general are becoming increasingly popular in Finland and Estonia will prevail if Finns see us as an expanded opportunity for domestic tourism.”
In total numbers, the number of overnight stays outside Tallinn grew almost as much (95,000) as in Tallinn (106,000). “The Estonian Tourist Board aims to also introduce various other Estonian regions besides Tallinn. First-time visitors mostly visit Tallinn, whereas the development and introduction of various Estonian regions is crucial for repeated visits,” Sameli said.
Overnight stays on rental accommodation increased as well
In addition to overnight stays at accommodation establishments, rental accommodation also grew significantly among visitors. While in 2017, rental accommodation added 7–8% to Airbnb accommodation alone, the same figure for 2018 was 11–12% and already 14–15% last year. The addition of rental spaces is all the more logical considering that the streets and accommodation establishments in Tallinn Old Town are full of foreign tourists during peak season.
“Our business tourism marketing has also achieved exceptional results: Estonia was visited by nearly 60,000 conference delegates, which is 10% more than in 2018, however, we are still losing tens of conferences every year and an estimated revenue of 20 million euros due to the lack of suitable large conference spaces,” Sameli said.
Targets for 2020
This year, the Estonian Tourist Board will focus on the strategic development of destinations based on the visitor, not the administrative division of Estonia. “Tourists do not travel by county, as they are more interested in unique destinations and a logical visitor journey,” Sameli commented. According to him, there are three areas where Estonian destinations are the strongest. These are food, pure nature, and authentic local culture. “In only a few months, Estonia will be put on the world map as a food country thanks to the international culinary competition Bocuse d’Or Europe to be held in Tallinn,” Sameli gave an example. “Flight connections also need to be further promoted, as tourists travelling by plane to Estonia spend twice as much per trip than those who visit Estonia by land.”
2019 in retrospect
In 2019, Estonian accommodation establishments accommodated 3.8 million tourists, 2.3 million of whom were foreign tourists and 1.5 million domestic tourists. The total number of tourists grew by 5.5% in comparison with 2018. The total number of nights spent here amounted to 7 million, including 4.4 million nights by foreign tourists and 2.6 million by domestic tourists. The total number of nights spent here grew by 5% in comparison with 2018, including an increase of 5% in the accommodation of foreign tourists and 6% in the accommodation domestic tourists. In conclusion, overnight stays in accommodation establishments increased in terms of nearly all destination markets this year: Latvia exhibited the biggest growth (+14%), followed by Germany (+11%), United Kingdom (+12%), Russia (+4%), Sweden (+9%), Norway (+7%), and Lithuania (+24%). The only large market to exhibit a decrease in accommodation was Finland (-1.8%) and in terms of less significant markets, Italy and Spain (-13% and -6%, respectively). The latter figures were due to military rotation for Italy and the football game for Spain in 2018. Japan exhibited a slight decrease in 2019 as well (-1%).
Summary video of last year in tourism: