TALLINN - Estonian Economy Minister Juhan Parts (pictured) last week held negotiations in China on tourism, passenger and cargo flights as well as with a large shipping group; the aim is to triple the number of Asian tourists by the year 2020, Eesti Paevaleht writes.
However, instead of focusing on Estonian national carrier Estonian Air as the company to make this possible, the focus is on China's largest private capital-owned aviation company Hainan Airlines.
"Hainan Group can be an important partner for us,” said Parts. "The heads of Chinese companies are bothered currently mainly by mistrust towards the prospects the European economy."
Estonian ministries are coordinating the program of attracting Asian capital and tourists to Estonia that Parts initiated. The number of tourists from Asia to Estonia has to increase to 60,000 people by 2020, as Estonia aims to be the Nordic tourism hub for people of that region, the program stipulates.
Last year, 22,900 tourists from Asia were accommodated in Estonia, by 2014, the plan prescribes receiving 28,000 tourists from the region.
The program, that was initiated 1.5 years ago, was initially based on the optimistic development plan of Estonian Air that prescribed including a partner from Asia and finding a strategic partner for the company as well as listing the shares at stock exchange.
"The board and council of Estonian Air is not investing any minutes of work on developing the Asian direction at the moment," said the company's council chairman Erkki Raasuke, adding that the company has to make the near region flights stipulated in its business plan work well first.