CEO of Estonian ferry company Tallink Grupp Paavo Nogene has voiced his opposition to the “tourism tax” proposed by Tallinn City Council chief Mihhail Kolvart, on the grounds that it would cause too many difficulties in the sector.
Kolvart announced his support for a small tourism tax, which could potentially bring in millions of euros, and would be reinvested in Tallinn and tourism-related activities, marketing, etc.
Despite Kolvart’s claims that tourism is booming in Tallinn, with sizeable increases taking place over the last decade, the Tallink chief points out that it is a different picture if you take the shorter term statistics into account.
«According to Statistics Estonia, there have been 5% fewer visitors from Finland at present than was the case this time last year, and this is one of the most important sectors of the tourist industry here,» said Nogene.
«The Port of Helsinki statistics paint a similar picture, with a 4.5% fall YoY in passenger numbers in June, and a 3.1% fall in July,» he went on.
«Therefore we need to look very carefully at what impact the introduction of a tourist tax might have,» he added.
This is despite an overall rise in tourist numbers coming to the region from Asia over the summer he noted; these would make up a part of the arrivals from Finland so the actual numbers of Finns might have fallen by more, he claimed.
“The decrease in the number of tourists in Finland has been influenced, among other things, by the alcohol and fuel excise taxes in Estonia, which have had a knock on effect in making services more expensive,» Nogene went on.
«Piling on additional taxes now before reducing other tax rates is not the best idea in today’s market situation,” he continued.
Mihhail Kolvart suggested even a one-euro-per-person-per-night tax level would bring in EUR 2.8 million to the Tallinn City Council coffers, money which could be reinvested in city infrastructure, marketing and the like.
Tallink is the largest passenger and cargo shipping company in the Baltic Sea region, employing over 7,000 people and with a net income of EUR 44 million for 2016. Notwithstanding falling tourist numbers from Finland, in 2018 the company enjoyed its most successful month of July to date. (ERR/Business World Magazine)