Estonia attracted 34 per cent more British and Irish visitors in January 2011, marking an auspicious start to a year in which its capital city Tallinn is hosting over 7,000 events as a European Capital of Culture and the country marks 20 years since Soviet independence.
The figures show a steady upwards growth in visitor numbers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with January 2010 having already shown an increase of 13% over the previous year, compared with 2008 when tourism plummeted by 30%.
The UK & Ireland was the fifth largest source market for Estonia, after inbound tourism from Estonia’s neighbouring countries Finland, Russia, Latvia and Sweden. The number of British/Irish tourists – 2,300 – was 34% higher than the same period the previous year, with two new RyanAir inaugural routes from London Luton and Edinburgh on 10 January contributing to the growth.
The total number of overseas visitors from all countries staying in accommodation establishments in Estonia during January was almost 88,000, an increase of 22% compared to January 2010 (source: Statistics Estonia). The number of bed nights was 208,000 (a 24% increase), with British guests spending 5,271 nights in Estonian accommodation, 19% higher than January 2010.
Estonia’s Director of Tourism, Tarmo Mutso, said: “Tallinn is one of two European Capitals of Culture in 2011 and this is attracting a lot of interest in the city, not least as a result of the extensive media coverage we’ve had right across Europe.
“Tallinn is also benefiting from the new Ryanair flights. The company established a hub in Tallinn and opened five routes in December and two in January, including three from the UK and Ireland, with new direct flights from Dublin, Edinburgh and Luton and a fourth new route from East Midlands starting on 1 January. In addition we’re delighted that easyJet is also extending its flying schedule with a new flight from Liverpool to Tallinn starting on 26 April to supplement its existing Stansted route.”
Estonia’s popularity for the Russians’ New Year holidays saw another successive increase. In January 2011 29,500 Russian tourists stayed at hotels in Estonia, 55% more than January 2010 and three times as many as in 2008. The Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships, the biggest-ever high-profile athletic competition to take place in Estonia was staged in January in the southern town of Otep. This contributed to the growth in tourism from Sweden and Norway.
The number of tourists from the Estonia’s largest inbound market, Finland, amounted to 32,400 visitors, a 2% increase on exceptionally strong figures in January 2010. Tourism from Latvia recovered after two weak years affected by the economic situation. The number of Latvian tourists was 4,600 in January, an increase of 27% year on year.
Mutso continued: “Several new tourist attractions have been or will be opened this year in Tallinn, including the Viru Hotel KGB museum, the renovated Estonian History Museum and the Estonian Maritime Museum at the reconstructed Seaplane Harbour on Tallinn’s seafront. Together with the various new attractions that opened already in 2010 and the numerous events of the European Capital of Culture, they provide excellent conditions for the growth in inbound tourism which we expect to continue to increase in the coming months.”