Estonia is a stable parliamentary democracy with a thriving export economy that highly depends on the Nordic countries, especially Sweden and Finland, as well as on Russia. The country experienced exceptional growth in the 2000s until a sharp drop in activity in 2009 (-14.1%), like the other Baltic countries, and since then its recovery has been considered as a model by international institutions.
Tourism contributes 13.6% of the country’s GDP. In 2011, Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture, and many direct air connections, including low-cost, have been established between Estonia’s capital city and major feeder markets such as Russia, Scandinavia and Germany. Media coverage of cultural events also contributed to the growing appeal of the country.
More than 70% of nights in hotels and similar accommodation are spent by non-residents. Finland and Russia are the main feeder markets and account for one third and 7.3% of overnights, respectively. Demand from Russia slowed down after a boom between 2007 and 2013. Two-thirds of overnights spent by foreign visitors are for leisure tourism, and Tallinn, with its medieval town recognized as World Heritage of UNESCO, attracts 60% of these visitors. Other destinations are growing, especially along the coast, with the development of the resort, spa and wellness tourism, mainly popular with tourists from Russia and the Nordic countries. In addition, its 1,500 islands and natural landscapes push the development of rural and nature tourism, especially practiced by nationals.
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