Foreign Tourist Spending in Estonia Reaches €1.2 Billion in 2023

Foreign Tourist Spending in Estonia Reaches €1.2 Billion in 2023

In 2023, Estonia saw more foreign tourists than it did in 2022, indicating the travel industry’s return to its pre-pandemic levels.

Nearly 4 million visitors flock to Estonia

According to recent data from the Bank of Estonia, foreign tourists spent over €1.2 billion in Estonia in 2023, a 17% increase from 2022.

Nearly 4 million visitors flocked to the Baltic nation in 2023, up to 13% from the previous year.

The influx of tourists gave a boost to Estonia’s travel industry. According to Statistics Estonia, accommodation places welcomed more than 3.4 million visitors, showing a 5% increase from the numbers seen in 2022.

However, domestic travel declined slightly even as foreign visitors returned in higher numbers.

Finns, Latvians lead visitor surge

Most foreign tourists visiting Estonia hailed from neighboring Finland and Latvia.

Arrivals from Finland totaled 697,000, an 18% jump over 2022. Meanwhile, 229,000 Latvian tourists traveled to Estonia, 12% more than the prior year.

However, visitors from more distant countries, like Germany, the UK, and the US, did not return to pre-pandemic levels as quickly.

Industry hopes are high for continued recovery in 2024.

Harju County prime destination

The vast majority of visitors, both foreign and domestic, favored Harju County and the capital city Tallinn.

Over 80% of foreign tourists stayed in Harju accommodation establishments.

Many people also visited Pärnu County and Tartu County, which are known for their beautiful resorts and historic university towns.

Domestic travel is concentrated in urban counties like Harju and Ida-Viru, in addition to the beach destination Pärnu County.

Rural Valga County proved unexpectedly popular with Estonian residents.

Economic windfall for tourism sector

In 2023, Estonia’s hospitality industry had a booming year due to more international and domestic travelers.

Accommodation establishments saw over 3.4 million nights booked, and the rooms were occupied 44% of the time. Average hotel rates climbed to €49 per guest per night.

Meanwhile, domestic trips declined year-over-year, foreign visitors more than offset the small contraction.

If recovery persists until 2024, industries like hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and transportation might make as much revenue as they did before the pandemic, or even more. 

ETIAS to streamline entry for travelers

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is set to launch in 2025, which will likely interest travelers who want to visit Estonia.

Once implemented, the ETIAS will facilitate visa-free entry for non-European Union (EU) visitors planning stays of up to 90 days.

Eligible nationalities can obtain travel authorization entirely online, without consulate appointments.

The system should ease trips for families, remote workers, students, and more.

Additionally, as Estonia becomes more popular among digital nomads, making it easier for them to immigrate digitally could bring in even more remote professionals.

Sunny outlook for Estonian tourism in 2024

Estonia’s tourism bounce-back bodes well for continued economic expansion in 2024.

With tourists from Northern European countries starting to travel more again and visitors from faraway places gradually coming back, the travel industry is getting ready for growth after facing tough times from the pandemic.

Sustained industry recovery would serve as a sign for the broader Estonian economy this year and beyond.