“We don’t plan a campaign that specifically focuses on safety, our research has shown that overemphasizing this also creates a difficult situation as the question arises as to why the focus should be separately,” said the foundation’s spokesperson, Martin Altraja.
Instead, Estonia’s positive traits will be highlighted in future campaigns. “We are holding more media and product tours here than before, bringing in foreign journalists and allowing them to experience the security situation first-hand,” he said.
Enterprise Estonia board member Sigrid Harjo said data from the Tourism Development Center’s ERR shows that very few bookings from Germany have been made since the start of the war in february.
Tourists from overseas were also put off by the visit, said Liina Maria Lepik, head of the foundation’s development center. “The main effects can be seen in package tours and cruises,” she noted.
She also pointed out that many Baltic cruises will be canceled because it is no longer possible to visit St. Petersburg.
The German market has been the most sensitive and this is a problem as the Baltic countries are a popular tourist destination with tour operators, Lepik added. “But we must not forget that the package travel consumer is predominantly older and more conservative.”
Enterprise Estonia explained to tour operators that Tallinn is as far from Kyiv as Berlin.
“We emphasize that if we give up traveling to each other solely because of fear and prejudice, we are essentially punishing each other,” Lepik said.
“But we can keep Estonia in the picture with positive news, like the expansion of the Michelin restaurant guide to Estonia or the opening of the 5* Radisson Collection hotel in May. These events and many more positive news helps to ease the fear and show that Estonia is doing well,” she said.
Last week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock traveled to the Baltic region and even visited the old town of Riga to show that the country was safe.
“Let me be very clear now. Safety is always about trust. You have to be visible on the pitch. I am speaking to the German listeners, to the German public, and I hope there are many of them here The Baltic States are a beautiful place where you can spend your holidays during Pentecost, in the summer season it is always an interesting visit,” she said.
Focus on new markets
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Enterprise Estonia immediately stopped cooperating with the Russian market and now turned to new markets.
“In general, tourists from our neighboring countries, especially Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, assess the situation correctly and neighboring countries are always a priority for us. The first signals give hope that the Finn is on the move again, and in the first months of the year, for example, Latvian tourists set an all-time visitation record, which also surpassed the best record of 2019,” she said.
Lepik said tourism from Spain, France and central Europe has also increased.
She said the foundation had begun to modify its campaigns and the two-year coronavirus pandemic had made the organization more flexible and responsive.
“As soon as one of the target markets opens up, we will start trading there vigorously, but we must also be ready to brake quickly or change plans,” she said.
One example she gave was Israel, which the organization began targeting with digital advertising when the country lifted travel restrictions.
Tallink: The number of passengers is increasing
Tallink communications manager Katri Link said the company saw more passengers this year than the same time last year.
“The first quarter figures show that since the easing of restrictions in our neighboring countries and the decline of the Omicron strain, our passenger numbers have started to increase,” she said, saying the company remained optimistic for a quick recovery.
She said passenger ships are again between Helsinki and Tallinn.