Estonian exports of travel services grew last year by 6% to 947 million euros

Andres Kerge
Andres Kerge
Economist in Eesti Pank Statistics Department

In 2012 there were a total of 5.3 million visits to Estonia by foreigners, while Estonian residents visited foreign countries a total of 3.8 million times. The number of foreign visitors was almost the same as in 2011, while the number of journeys by Estonian residents was 2% higher. Foreign visitors spent 947 million euros on various goods and services in Estonia, and Estonian travellers purchased travel services and goods abroad worth 607 million euros.

In 2012 the structure of visits to Estonia changed. In 2011 Tallinn was the European capital of culture and the summer was warm, and this brought a record number of visitors to Estonia from countries of the European Union. The following year the number of visitors from those countries dropped by almost 7%, with the number coming from Finland, Estonia's most important partner in travel, down by 3% and the numbers from the other EU countries down by an average of over 10%. At the same time, the number of visitors from Russia was up by 31% and from other CIS countries by 27%. This helped reduce the seasonal fluctuations in the tourism sector in the first and fourth quarters and to increase occupancy rates in accommodation establishments in Estonia.

A little over half of all visitors stayed overnight, and the length of the average stay was four days.

The number of trips abroad made by Estonian residents increased by 2% in 2012 and a total of 3.8 million visits were made to various foreign countries. The number of trips abroad and the number of foreign countries visited are not the same, as one trip abroad may include visits to several different countries. Earlier research has shown that the average number of foreign countries visited in each trip abroad is 1.7.

Most visits by Estonian residents were to countries in the European Union, and there were 13% more of them than in 2011, with a total of 2.9 million, of which more than one million were to Finland. The next most popular destination was Russia, which was visited 424,000 times, or 29% less than in the previous year. Other popular destinations that were visited more than 100,000 times by people from Estonia were Latvia, Sweden, Germany and Lithuania, and for the first time Poland and Norway.

Of all the visits made, 70% were for more than one day. Single day trips were mostly made to the neighbouring countries Russia, Finland and Sweden.

Eesti Pank uses the statistics about foreign travel in calculating exports and imports of travel services for the balance of trade figures. Preliminary estimates show that 947 million euros of travel services were exported in 2012 by foreign visitors buying goods and services in Estonia, which was 6% more than in the previous year. As the total number of foreign visitors grew by only 0.5%, this growth in exports came mostly from changes in the structure of foreign visitors between overnight and same-day visits, and between tourists from Russia and from the EU, and also from price rises in Estonia. Imports of travel services by Estonian residents purchasing goods and services abroad were preliminarily estimated at 607 million euros for 2012, which is 5% more than in 2011.


More detailed information can be found on the Eesti Pank website under International travel statistics. The methodology for collecting International travel statistics was designed by researchers at Eesti Pank and the University of Tartu in partnership with OÜ Positium LBS. The mobile positioning data are collected and processed by OÜ Positium LBS, which gets the data from the mobile phone network operators in an anonymised form so as to protect fully the privacy of the telephone users. Statistical methods have been developed for the use, processing and presentation of the data that do not permit identification of any individual telephone or user and that comply with the law on data protection and personal data protection. A more detailed description of the methodology can be found on the Eesti Pank website under International travel statistics.

The international travel statistics for the first quarter of 2013 will be published on the Eesti Pank website on 17 May at 12.00, according to the release calendar.

For further information:
Ingrid Mitt
Public Relations Office
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