Why and What Kind of Tourism Policy Does the Country Need? *
Tourism has become the most important source of income in many countries. World practice has shown that no country has become tourist destination by itself, but with years of targeted work in developing and implementing national tourism policies. Recent years have been successful for the Estonian tourism. According to the statistics, 2.14 million foreign tourists stayed in accommodation establishments in 2018, the export of tourism services accounted for 10.2% of the Estonian goods and services exports and the share of tourism in GDP and employment was approximately 8 per cent, taking into account indirect effects.
This article provides a brief overview of the definition, significance and objectives of tourism policy, the development of the Estonian National Tourism Policy from 1920 to1940, developments following the restoration of independence, and the results of the study on tourism policy. In 2016–2019, 45 in-depth interviews were conducted with the key people of tourism sector. In general, the replies to the question on what tourism policy would be necessary in a situation where Estonian tourism is doing well, but the competition between destinations is increasing gave a significant place to developing a tourism policy based on values and quality, and not just numbers. Integrating of tourism policy into a holistic policy of governance was considered the most important. The development and implementation of national tourism policies require a broader recognition of tourism as a key socio-economic area for the country and more effective cooperation with other ministries, municipalities and partners.
The study suggests that the most significant reserves in the development and implementation of national tourism policies lie in promotion, knowledge and communication activities. Most respondents thought that the relevant activities should be much more effective in order to support the achievement of the national tourism policy objectives. Tourism must be brought into “bigger picture” nationally! The study involved only the people active in the field of tourism. Representatives of other ministries and sectors of activity should also be included in research into tourism policy. In one way or the other, tourism relates to us all, and the more aware of tourism we are, the more effectively we can “use” tourism policy in the interests of the development of the Estonia and the growth of human well-being. Tourism policy must be brought to the politicians, the Government of the Republic and the municipalities, scientists, entrepreneurs and people! It is our common business.
* Peer-reviewed article