New tourism development plan draws criticism08.10.2012, 18:41
Estonia has embarked on an ambitious tourism development plan. In the next seven years, the export of tourism services should go up by 25 percent, according to the draft tourism development plan that the parliament will be debating at the end of the year.
While at present the state earns 1.3 billion euros from tourism, the amount should increase to 1.6 billion by 2020.
Tarmo Mutso, head of the tourism department of Enterprise Estonia, says that the new tourism development plan is based on three whales: promoting Estonia as a tourism destination in neighbouring countries, good tourism products that help to survive tough times and more even distribution of tourists in
Estonia which means shifting the focus away from Tallinn.
While tourism officials are promoting the scheme, smaller tourist operator are more sceptical and say that the plan is unrealistic.
Riho Puks who runs Kopra tourist farm in Viljandimaa says that the ideas of the tourism development plan are necessary only to show to officials.
“I have seen these whales swim and sink for already 15 years. There is nothing new, it’s the same old things in the new outfit.”
Puks says that if the state wants to do something for the tourist operator, it should revise the EU requirements. “Compliance with these so-called eurostandards requires such investments that it has pushed the price of accommodation service very high. Instead of supporting us, the state is fining us,” said Puks, adding that the biggest mistake was made ten years ago when the state decided to focus tourism development funding on Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and Narva.
Tiiu Saarna who offers accommodation services on the island of Hiiumaa says that the new proposed model is not suitable for the island. “Those who come to visit Hiiumaa are not here for one night, but rent a cottage or room for the whole week and travel around the island