TALLINN - The number of tourists visiting Estonia increased 30 percent last year, the highest growth rate among EU countries, the daily Postimees reported.
A recent Eurostat survey showed that the flow of tourists in Estonia grew at the fastest rate among the 25 EU member countries. Travel agencies said the main catalyst for the growth was the active promotion of the country abroad and a wider choice of services to tourists.
The number of tourists also grew rapidly in Poland and Latvia, according to Eurostat statistics.
"The growth could apparently have been faster, but the dearth of hotel accommodation in the short Estonian tourist season set a limit to it," vice president of the Estravel travel agency, Malle Pottsepp, told the paper.
The Economic Affairs Ministry said the growth in the number of both foreign and domestic tourists was also connected with the opening of new accommodation institutions and spas.
According to ministry figures, 1.37 million foreign tourists stayed at accommodation facilities in 2004, 24 percent more than in 2003.
The ministry, however, forecasts that the rate of growth will slow this year. According to its forecasts, the number of foreign tourists staying overnight will increase by 14 percent this year.