TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and IT Andres Sutt has signed an order for product development support in tourism, whereby 13.65 million euros will be allocated for the sector.
Sutt said that while tourism has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, it is time that this sector, too, turn its gaze towards the future and think how its services could be adapted to the changed market. The support measure will help the tourism sector invest in new tourism products and update existing ones, spokespeople for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said.
"The product development support is geared towards the creation of new tourism products and updating existing ones so that they should generate greater added value, boost the international competitiveness of Estonian tourism products and thereby help restore the export of Estonian tourism services to the same level as before COVID-19," Sutt said in a press release.
The new products must stand out and fit into the comprehensive visitor experience and digital and green turnaround trends as well as meet the principles of inclusive design, which means they need to be accessible to everybody.
"People's travel habits have yet to fully recover, but they definitely will at some point. When they do, entrepreneurs need to be ready and take people's changed needs and expectations into account, be it in relation to digital solutions or environmental sustainability," the minister said.
Eligible for support are all tourism enterprises, entrepreneurs' associations and locations whose tourism product focuses on developing a tourism service that attracts visitors. Support ranges from 20,000 to 200,000 per application and the rate of support depends on the size of the applicant, ranging from 15 to 45 percent of the total cost of the project for regional aid and amounting to 70 percent for de minimis aid.
Projects to be supported as part of the measure will be announced in March 2022.
The product development support for tourism is a part of the European Union's REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe) funding, which is used for developing the sector during its exit from the crisis. Thus far, the state has directed altogether 90 million euros of COVID-19 crisis aid into tourism through Enterprise Estonia.