Turkey draws shivering Estonians desperate for a tan

Anette Parksepp
, reporter
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Alas, the weather hath turned terrible in Estonia this summer. The result is folks fleeing the country, seeking for sunshine elsewhere in Europe with Turkey topping the charts.  

Estonian Travel and Tourism Association secretary-general Kristen Lahtein said the travel agents are having a good time right now. Basically, all packages have been sold out, and no last-minute trips should be hoped for. Also: no longer possible to plan for sunniest spots or ones most desirable – rather, any vacancy should be thankfully snatched, said Ms Lahtein.

She said packages to Turkey sell best. Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Spain and Italy are also favoured.  

No good deals

As also underlined by travel agency Go Travel marketing manager Anu Vane, the rainy and cold weather has quite an effect on vacations sales: «While last summer the last minute deals were often available, not so this year – some couple of offers, rather rarely.»

Year-on-year, Go Travel’s vacation sales for May to July are up over 15 percent. «Talking about packages i.e. charter flights, Turkey is beyond competition – with us at Go Travel, about half go there,» said Ms Vane. Like last year, Greece and Bulgaria are vying for silver medal. These three destinations answer for 75 percent of all vacation sales.

At that, the greatest leap has been performed by Bulgaria – nearly 20 percent. Remarkably in eyes of Ms Vane, the Greek trips are only down a couple of percent. «The crisis is felt, thus, but the drop is small and requests to travel to Greece are submitted daily,» she noted.

As also confirmed by Estravel’s PR-chief Kati Veskimägi, Turkey is the top performer. Antalya, to be specific, as trailed by Crete in Greece, Bulgaria, Rhodes and Corfu of Greece, and Italy. With those travelling on their own, Ms Veskimägi listed Malaga (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), Milan (Italy), Barcelona (Spain) and Lisbon (Portugal) as most popular.

Ms Veskimägi said the trips to warm lands are up as the weather turned bad, just like last year. Estravel sales data says the demand has been great after Midsummer Day, and most of trips sold out. «In summer, the Estonian does seek to be in the sun,» she explained.

The Estravel May to July trips sales are up 10 percent, year-on-year. Thereat, trips to Turkey are up a whopping 26 percent as boosted by direct Tallinn-Istanbul flights now available. Travels to Bulgaria and Italy are up almost ten percent as well. Meanwhile, Portugal is down 35 percent as Tallinn-Lisbon direct flights are history. Croatia has declined as well.

Novatours CEO Andree Uustal reported a ten percent overall rise year-on-year while some vacancies do exist. For them, it is also Turkey that is the star performer, having hosted over 12,000 from Estonia this year.  

Mr Uustal added that as early as May 12th Novatours opened winter trips sales and almost a fifth has been sold.

Tourist association’s Kristen Lahtein said that as the packages are basically sold out, people are beginning to seek for air tickets for themselves and book hotels.

Fall rest best

Indeed: as confirmed by airlines Estonian Air press rep Ilona Eskelinen, ticket bookings are up significantly this summer, last minute offers included. «Obviously, this is the sun deficit,» she noted. In July, Estonian Air’s destinations of choice were Nice (France), Berlin (Germany) and Split (Croatia).

As assured by Go Travel’s Ms Vane: planning ahead a week or two, one will find something so no-one must go without the vacation. She said at the end of the summer direct flights to Bulgaria will be added, so the options will be broader.

Ms Lahtein the tourist association head uttered a word of warning as last minute trip prices are skyrocketing: «To those that are prudent, or whoever has the option, I’d rather advise that they stretch out the summer i.e. take some trip in September or October.» Also, Ms Lahtein advises everybody to get busy planning New Year abroad and other things winter – at once.