Travel And Tour World – How Tallinn is working to show its cultural excellence?
Daily Lehtmets: At Tallinn’s heart is the Medieval Old Town, an area of cobblestone streets, gabled houses, churches and squares that developed here from 13th to 16th centuries when Tallinn boomed as a commercial hub. Old Town has long been the main draw for newcomers – in fact it’s so unique that UNESCO added it to its World Heritage List in 1997.
Estonia loves to showcase its rich culture, especially the traditional mass singing events that define the soul of the nation. Chief among these is the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration, held every five years, which involves as many as 37,000 performers and attracts over 200,000 spectators.
There are also a number of major annual events to see including Tallinn Music Week, the Jazzkaar International Jazz Festival, Old Town Days, Medieval Days, Tallinn Maritime Days, Birgitta Festival, Tallinn Marathon, Black Nights Film Festival and the Simple Session skateboard and BMX competition. Find out more about Tallinn Cultural Highlights.
Travel And Tour World – How the Estonian Tourist Board is planning to promote the country to attract more international tourists?
Kadri Gröön: The goal of the Estonian Tourist Board is to enhance the popularity of Estonia as a travel destination and the international competitiveness of Estonian tourism products.
In selecting our activities, we wish to:
- Foster first visits from distant markets and repeat visits from adjacent markets
- Increase the number of off-season visits
- Prolong the duration of visits
- Broaden the customer base with travellers of different ages, with higher demands, and higher expenditure.
In marketing, we focus on the following markets with the highest potential to deliver revenues from marketing investments:
- First Priority: Finland, Russia, Latvia
- Secondary Priority: Sweden, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom
- Domestic tourism
- Distant markets: China, Japan, USA.
Travel And Tour World: Share with us the statistical information on the meetings in Estonia.
Kadri Gröön: 2016 Meetings Statistics:
- 3 951 meetings, including 1 016 international meetings
- 247 337 participants, including 62 242 international participants
- 82% of them took place in Tallinn, the capital city, 13% of them took place in our academic HQ (alma mater) Tartu and the rest 5% in smaller places all over Estonia.
In ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) ranking Estonia holds 52nd place – the best of 3 Baltic countries and capital City Tallinn holds 111th position (ICCA database includes more than 200 countries and over 2000 cities).
High season for conferences in Estonia: March-June and August-November; main conference destinations in Estonia: Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu.
Travel And Tour World: What is the percentage of stays in Estonia ?
Kadri Gröön: In 2016, there were 2 millions of foreign tourists staying overnight in hotels (+ those who spent their nights in AirBnB and friends’ and relatives’ homes). It is 2 times as much as the population of Estonia.
As for 2017, the big data is coming in near future, but we are moving on record track. As the result of 11 months of 2017 the amount of foreign tourists increased 5% compared to same period of 2016.
Most of visitors are from neighbour countries as Finland, Latvia and Russia, but the biggest and quickest increase (two times) in last 3 years has been from long-haul markets: mainly Asia, China and Japan.
Travel And Tour World: Responsibility and Sustainable tourism is now one of the major concerns in this world. How Estonia is contributing to it?
Kadri Gröön: Estonia ranks among the eight greenest countries in the world, according to Yale University’s2016 Environmental Performance Index.
As much as 50% of Estonia is covered by forests, adding the peat bogs and other nature areas and the wilderness coverage goes up to 70%.
The World Health Organization has rated Estonia’s air quality as the 5th best in the world. The tap water is also pure and very drinkable. 15% of all farmland in Estonia is used for organic farming.
We are aware of the impacts that tourism sector can have to all of those facts mentioned above. Therefore, Estonian Tourist Board (ETB) is strategically contributing to sustainable tourism through various actions and initiatives.
For domestic market, we have an eco-tourism certification label EHE- Genuine and Interesting Estonia. It is awarded to 105 service providers, social activities and programs in compliance with the principles of eco-tourism.
Sustainability has become a high-priority goal in just about every field of activity, and the conference industry is certainly no exception. Though meetings, particularly international events, aren’t inherently sustainable, we are constantly taking steps to reduce the impact meetings have on the fragile environment.
Travel And Tour World: What is your social media strategy to attract more tourists to Estonia?
Kadri Gröön: Future planning is most tightly connected with our official tourism website. There are 7000 ideas and good offers for both relaxing and adventurous vacation in 7 languages. We focus on characteristic photo and video material and actual content, including blogs, top-articles etc.
- For each market we adapt the content according to our expertise of the tourists’ interest. We have fully responsive mobile-website, also for the visually impaired people. Taking into account an increasing digital media consumption and individual travelling we keep improving the opportunities of the website.
- Also different social media channels are important to attract new audience and younger people (Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat).
- We proceed with press-trips for journalists and familiarization-trips for tour operators.
- There is Storytellers’ Nest in Tallinn by which we host bloggers and vloggers in Estonia to facilitate them to produce valuable, actual and experience-based content about Estonia.
- As for promoting subjects, the main themes and call-to-actions, why to travel to Estonia, are: our spa-culture, rich of traditions dating back to 19th century when even the Russian Tsar’s family loved to relax here; golf opportunities and Estonian ecologically pure food.
- Our big, the so-called guerrilla marketing projects have recently also been tightly connected with promoting Estonian nature tourism opportunities and we plan to proceed the strategy. The most outstanding examples are Estonian Stress Buster campaign also cooperation with Estonian pop-artist Kerli.
- This year we celebrated the Estonian 100th anniversary, with the multi cultural events.
- We also continue attending big fairs and organising ourselves workshops and roadshows for tourism professionals in our target markets USA, Asia, Europe and Russia.
- We also help to bring new flight connections in cooperation with flight companies and Tallinn Airport.