Initiatives for Ukrainian refugees in Estonia
20 000 refugees have arrived in Estonia so far. As Estonia has a population of 1.3 million, the number of new arrivals is already more than 1 percent of the population. Tourism sector is at the forefront to help them settle down.
First contact point. Especially Estonian hotels are the first contact point for refugees, this is the first place, where to calm down, sleep and wash after a long journey. In second-biggest city of Estonia, Tartu also a refugee center is opened in a hotel.
Hiring Ukrainian refugees. As many people who have no friends or relatives in Estonia spend their first days and weeks in hotels, accommodation establishments hire them already on the very spot and there can be that a refugee lives and already works in a hotel where he or she arrived. Also the Unemployment Insurance Fund opened a job offer environment for Ukrainian war refugees, there are also many offers from tourism enterprises. A webinar by many partners how to hire refugees has also been arranged.
Special offers from enterprises. There has been special deals by the enterprises whose production help Ukrainian refugees. For example, Wendre AS, Estonia’s leading manufacturer of pillows and blankets, made special discount that people could buy to donate to Ukrainian refugees. It was possible to buy the products at a favorable price just for a donation.
Public transport in Estonia free for Ukrainian refugees. Refugees who have fled Ukraine can get a public transport card from the host local government, or from the regional Public Transport Center, which is valid on buses within city limits as well as buses on county lines.
Suspended tourism campaigns and tourist visas. Visit Estonia have suspended all B2C and B2B tourism marketing in Russian market. Currently, also issuing tourist visas to citizens of the Russian Federation has been temporarily suspended.
Free admission to museums. More than 60 Estonian museums and exhibition institutions have decided to grant free admission to Ukrainian war refugees on the basis of a document certifying citizenship. The aim of the initiative is to facilitate the adaptation of war refugees to Estonia.
Visit Estonia works hand in hand with Invest in Estonia and Work in Estonia. Visit Estonia (Estonian Tourist Board), Invest in Estonia and Work in Estonia are three branches of the same organization and function which is marketing of Estonia. There is a special web-page for Ukrainians with versatile information about visa, medical help, free school and kindergarten, e-residency and founding business for Ukrainians. There is also an information line to advise companies affected by the war and to map out problems, enterprises can call or describe their problems in the web environment.
Central webpage „For Ukraine!”. From the very beginning, it has been a central website for donating, coordinating donations, and sharing information and accounts from trusted donor organizations.
An all-time record from Latvia, Finland is recovering very slowly
When comparing statistics from January 2022 to those from January 2019, the number of nights spent in accommodation establishments was:
- 52% less for international tourism than in January 2019
- 15% more for domestic tourism, i.e. January 2022 set a new record for domestic tourism
In addition to domestic tourism, Latvian tourists set an all-time record for overnight stays in January, with 16% more overnight stays in accommodation establishments than in January 2019.
In contrast, tourism from Finland is recovering very slowly. In January 2022, Finnish tourists spent 68% less nights in accommodation establishments than in January 2019.
There were fewer overnight stays in 2019 by tourists from the following countries: Lithuania (28%), Germany (56%), Great Britain (66%), Sweden (72%), Russia (78%). At the same time, there was a significant increase last year, in November and December for example, in overnight stays from Spain and France.
The number of overnight stays of domestic tourists increased the most in Tallinn, compared to both January 2021 and 2019. However, domestic tourism in Tallinn only covers a small part of the decline in foreign tourism (compared to January 2019, there were 11,100 more overnight stays by domestic tourists in Tallinn but 82,600 less overnight stays by foreign tourists in 2022). Therefore, compared to 2019, overnight stays in Tallinn have actually recovered least. However, in some counties with a lot of domestic tourism, the number of overnight stays reached new records in January 2022: Viljandi, Järva and Rapla counties.
The number of short-term rental places has been declining over the years: from about 7100 in January 2019 to about 6200 in January 2022. At the same time, the number of booked nights was 10% higher in total (9% less in Tallinn).
From August to December last year, Estonian residents accounted for a third of the customers, and in January this increased again to 42%.
From 10-13 March, the BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon Otepää 2022 took place in Estonia!
There were 241 athletes competing, 8 of whom represented Estonia, as well as judges, other officials and almost 100 representatives of foreign media. Visit Estonia made sure that Estonia was visible both in the stadium and on international television during the competition.
- The journey from the car parks to the stadium had signs with questions about Estonia, Otepää and skiing, with answers by the track.
- Video postcards on the topic of Estonia produced in co-operation with Visit Estonia and Estonian Public Broadcasting were broadcasted.
- People could take pictures in front of the Visit Estonia photo wall.
- Video clips of the wonderful winters of Estonia were shown on the screens.
- People could use QR codes to read stories about Estonia on their phones.
- Visit Estonia’s message was also worn on the competitors’ bibs, the ice sculpture, the competition arches, the costumes of the cheerleaders and even the penalty loop.
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