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Country Highlights

Estonia & its Tourism

Tourism plays a vital role in Estonia, contributing nearly 8% of GDP and employing tens of thousands. In 2019, the sector’s services exports totaled €2.1 billion, with international visitors alone spending €1.6 billion. However, the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the industry in 2020.

Estonia has significant potential to further develop tourism due to its scenic coastline, well-preserved historic towns, and over 2,500 lakes. Popular destinations include the capital Tallinn, known for its medieval Old Town, and islands like Saaremaa which offer beaches and coastal landscapes. Cultural tourism centered around song festivals and traditional crafts gives visitors insight into Estonian heritage and folklore.

The government has made tourism a strategic priority through its 2022-2025 strategy. Goals focus on sustainability, digitalization, and innovation to strengthen competitiveness. For example, the Visit Estonia e-marketing platform promotes the country internationally and provides online booking tools. The “paperless embassy” program issues digital travel authorization.

The tourism sector in Estonia plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, contributing significantly to GDP and employment. Before the COVID-19 crisis, tourism directly provided 5.4% of GDP and 4.4% of employment. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Estonia has shown resilience and adaptability in its approach to tourism development. The government has increased funding for the sector, with a focus on sustainability, digitalization, and innovation to enhance competitiveness. Strategic goals have been set to develop Estonia as a sustainable tourism destination offering diverse experiences throughout the year, aiming to exceed pre-crisis levels in tourist numbers and service exports.

Estonia’s tourism strategy for 2022-2025 emphasizes product and destination development, restoration of demand, and ensuring connectivity to key markets. The country aims to increase the length of stay and spending by tourists while prioritizing sustainability and creating added value in the sector. Sustainability is a core principle, focusing on valuing local culture, environment, and community, as well as contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To facilitate collaboration and implementation of these strategic goals, a national tourism advisory council has been established to engage with various stakeholders including business associations, carriers, destinations, ministries covering culture and foreign affairs, and state agencies. This collaborative approach underscores Estonia’s commitment to enhancing its tourism industry through coordinated efforts across different sectors.

Going forward, Estonia aims to diversify and extend the tourism season beyond summer. Experiential activities like cycling, winter sports, and culinary tourism are being developed. Collaboration between industry and education will enhance workforce skills. Continued investment in infrastructure and attractions will draw more domestic and international travelers.

As a consulting firm with global connectivity, Ruskin Felix can support Estonia’s tourism sector in several ways. Strategic planning services help optimize marketing and operations. Market research identifies new opportunities. Training programs transfer knowledge on sustainability best practices, digital transformation, and service excellence. Partnership with RFC brings valuable perspectives to help Estonia realize its vision of resilient, world-class tourism.

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Featured Reports

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