While the number of domestic trips continued to experience stable growth in 2019, with Estonians continuing to enjoy short trips to locally popular destinations such as coastal areas including Pärnu, the number of inbound arrivals experienced a notable recovery at the end of the review period, supported by positive growth in the number of inbound tourists from the country’s largest market Finland. Inbound arrivals from this country had witnessed a decline mid-review period, when excise taxes were heavily increased leading to a hike in prices of alcohol; while Finns have traditionally enjoyed visiting Estonia for its natural beauty and easily accessible location which they often travel to by ferry, the attraction of cheaper alcohol in Estonia compared to their home country used to be a huge incentive for Finns to visit.
Estonians are increasingly opting to book their travel arrangements online due to the convenience this platform offers time-restricted consumers, in addition to the cost savings that can potentially be made. Consumers increasingly appreciate the freedom of being able to plan and book their own travel arrangements such as the initial stage of choosing a destination, being able to read reviews of hotels on TripAdvisor to purchasing the most competitively-priced flights.
With an increasing number of international low cost carriers entering travel in Estonia, this segment offers strong potential. The arrival of Hungarian low cost carrier Wizz Air in the summer of 2018 and the rapid expansion of AirBaltic in terms of offering competitively-priced flights to a wider range of destinations, is placing pressure on national carrier Nordica.
Although Lithuanian travel operators, Novaturas and Tez Tour, continued to be the leading players in Estonian intermediaries in 2019, they may face competitive pressure in the future in the country. The two largest Polish travel operators, Itaka and Rainbow Tours, entered Lithuanian travel mid-review period, offering cheaper holiday package options.
With a positive outlook for the Estonian economy, a strong labour market and increasing disposable incomes, local consumers will become increasingly willing to raise their discretionary spending, which will have a significant impact on the growth of Estonian travel over the forecast period. With celebrations of the country’s centenary extending to February 2020, the awareness of Estonia as a viable travel destination with natural beauty, coastal regions and historic locations, the number of inbound trips is predicted to record stronger growth over the forecast period compared with the review period.
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