Eurovision Song Contest brings cash to Tallinn

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
May 23, 2002

The huge international Eurovision Song Contest, the likes of which Estonia has never hosted before, will bring thousands of tourists to these shores this month who’ll be leaving millions of kroons in the country’s coffers.According to Peeter Rebane, the producer of the big show, which takes place on May 25, roughly 12 million kroons ($706,000) will be left behind in Estonia by people coming for the event.

Half of the special Eurovision products made as souvenirs for the event, like wine, candies and T-shirts, are already sold out a week before the event.

Most hotel rooms were booked in the capital long ago, and tourists may have to start looking for accommodation outside the city.

“Most hotels are getting the maximum out of this opportunity, which doesn’t happen so often in Estonia,” said Reet Pihelgas, manager of the Dzhingel Hotel in Tallinn.

Many of the city’s hotels have doubled their prices.

But tourists are not interested at the moment in making longer trips to other cities. The demand for hotel rooms in Estonia’s other cities and towns has not increased.

Donald Visnapuu, managing director of the Association of Estonian Hotels and Restaurants, said there had always been a surge in demand for hotel rooms in Tallinn at the weekend in May. The near sellout does not surprise him.

He said that the average monthly accommodation rate in Tallinn’s hotels was usually 70 percent in May, while weekends were usually sold out. Increasing hotel prices during special events is a common practice abroad, he noted.

“Only a few rooms are left,” he added. “Since there are a lot of technical personnel at Eurovision, there’s a demand for both expensive and inexpensive hotel rooms, both in the center and outside.”

There is also a huge demand for plane tickets. Estonian Air has added two flights to Stockholm and two to Copenhagen for May 26.

However, ticket prices remain unchanged, said Erki Urva, director of commerce at Estonian Air. He believes the event will bring profits far into the future.

“It’s too early to measure the total revenues from Eurovision,” he said. “The main income will come after Eurovision, when Estonia has become a popular image, resulting from the broadcast of the event around the world, in the minds of people abroad.”

Visnapuu agreed, saying that most Estonian businesses would eventually gain from the huge marketing boost the country received.

“Estonian businesses have taken advantage of Eurovision as much as they could. I’m glad the marketing concept for Estonia as a brand has been worked out. This is definitely a big achievement, which had been made by professionals,” he said.

The Estonian Brand Project, which cost the state over 13 million kroons to create, can be used freely by Estonian companies. For ex-ploiting the signs and symbols of Eurovision, businesses would have to pay 5 percent to 50 percent of their turnover to Estonian Natio-nal Television.

But many are happy to oblige.

The textile company Marat took advantage of both the Estonian Brand Project and the Eurovision signs for their T-shirts, and their sales have never been so good. The company has sold about 5,000 T-shirts, and another 4,000 will be manufactured in the coming days.

The confectionery company Kalev has sold over half of its 120,000 Eurovision chocolate bars and 4,500 handmade candy bottles specially produced for the Euro-vision event.

The companies Kiil&Ko and Dunkri Kaubandus, meanwhile, slapped Eurovision logos on im-ported Spanish wines popular in many of Tallinn’s bars and restaurants.

“Eurovision is a great opportunity to introduce our country and its capital, and for businesses to sell their products and services, and in this way introduce themselves,” said Ruth Roth, Kalev’s spokeswoman.

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