Hotels feel the pinch

  • 2008-05-08
  • By Marge Tubalkain-Trell

EMPTY SPACES: Tallinn's hotels have added nearly a thousand new beds over the past year and are now suffering from a downfall in tourism.

Tallinn  - Managers of some of the country's top hotels have admitted they are facing hard times due to higher competitiveness and falling demand.
Tallinn has seen a huge increase in hotel rooms in anticipation of extra tourist traffic. Now the global economic downturn has meant the crowds are not coming.
"Things have gotten more competitive. There are 200 beds in our hotel and there must be at least 200 people wanting to stay in a hotel. The thing is how to bring them here?" said Kaido Ojaperv, manager of Tallinn Hotels.  The Tallinn City Tourist Department said the city is losing it allure.
"Interest has decreased a couple of percentage points. There are other markets and we have lost the newness we had in 2004 after joining European Union," said Tiina Ilbus from Tallinn's City Tourism Department.
"There are two different aspects of this. The [strongest] competition today is in the leisure segment. For us, as a big city center hotel, we have a lot of corporate clients," said Johan Aschka, manager of Radisson SAS hotel.
Last year around 1,000 new bed-spaces came onto the market. Many new businesses spent a lot of time on their business plans without taking into account higher fuel prices and the credit crunch. For a small market such as Tallinn there has not been much specialization, although certain hotels tend to have more of one type of guest. 

Tourism experts say people mainly come to Tallinn in search of culture, fresh air and silence, which brings a lot of families here.  As reported in The Baltic Times in March, the stag party craze is slowly dying out.
Other strong points are the picturesque Old Town and the city's title of "Capital of Culture 2011." Tallinn is also trying to attract people to more than the Old Town by having them to discover other parts of Tallinn.
Latvians and Norwegians have also started to travel to Tallinn in ever greater numbers 's last year, incoming tourism grew 15 percent from Norway and 21 percent from Latvia.
Hotels are trying their best to compete and stand out 's both by offering good service and extra value 's in order to bring guests back. The tourism department is also helping by promoting the city in the seven most important countries 's Russia, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the U.K.

 "We are advertising ourselves. In Russia and Finland we are making campaigns 's one is coming in autumn in Russia and at the moment there's one going on in Finland. For example, for Great Britain, we are one small city and it would be pointless to scream out alone and loudly: Welcome to Tallinn," Iibus said.
In countries like the U.K. or Germany, for which Tallinn is just a small town, the Tourism Department doesn't make any campaigns. Instead they're searching for partnerships between individual companies. Tallinn has also started marketing itself to Asian countries.

 "We need to take drastic action in order to bring more [tourist] volume to Tallinn. The airport needs to be fully busy with incoming airlines. I have mentioned that it's not a bad idea to bring in local airlines, because it brings more volume to the city," Aschka said.