TALLINN - Estonian breweries are brimming with excitement as they expect to see their market boom in May, when Finnish tourists will be allowed to take home 110 liters of beer. This is 10 times more than is presently permitted.
What's more, Finns will no longer have to stay a night in Estonia to take beer to home.
Tarmo Noot, chairman of Estonia's second-largest brewery A.Le Coq, which belongs to Finnish brewer Olvi, is confident that beer tourism is likely to become a separate economic sector. "I forecast that export of beer from Estonia to Finland will at least double," said Noop, adding that the brewery was going to expand its product range and introduce packaging targeted specially to Finns.
Executives of Estonia's largest brewery, Saku, also admit that the market is likely to change. "It is a huge opportunity for Estonian breweries," said Karin Sepp, marketing manager of Saku Brewery. Among others plans, the company is going to focus on producing more canned beer.
Smaller breweries such as Parnu Brewery plan to cooperate with Finnish breweries, for instance by letting them can beer for the Finnish buyers.
According to the Estonian Statistics Office, in 2002 tourists purchased 6.5 million liters of beer, 1.3 million liters of vodka and 0.4 million liters of liqueur from Finland. On the flipside, Finnish statistics, which includes tax-free sales, claim that Finnish tourists imported 20 million liters of beer and 2.5 million liters of hard alcohol from Estonia last year.