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Alcohol tourism to Estonia set to increase

A higher “sin tax” to be levied on alcohol is expected to accelerate alcohol tourism between Finland and Estonia. The trend has been noticeable with each previous increase in alcohol taxes in Finland.

Tallinnan matkaajia
Image: YLE / Simo Pitkänen

This year was no different as the amount of alcohol imported into Finland from Estonia also rose. It’s also very easy to take a quick trip to Tallinn at short notice.

The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and the Finnish Federation of Commerce expect that the planned 100-million-euro increase in the tax on alcohol will fuel an increased flow of hard liquor imports from Estonia.

When alcohol taxes rose in 2008 and 2009 there was a related increase in booze imported by individual travellers. The vast majority of alcoholic beverages imported into Finland now come from either maritime traffic or Estonia.

Rising alcohol prices in Finland could mean the same in Estonia. Imre Poll, Manager of the Super Alko outlet in the Tallinn harbour, believes that Estonia could soon see higher price tags on booze.

“I worry that when taxes rise in Finland then Estonian politicians will want it to happen here too. It has happened many times before that first Finland hikes taxes, then Estonia does the same,” he explained.

In spite of this the summer weeks have seen especially brisk passenger shipping traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn. Statistics revealing just how much alcohol Finns have brought home with them have not yet been released, but Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist for the Federation of Commerce says the active passenger traffic already foreshadows the official numbers.

“Passenger numbers and travel activity correlate directly with alcohol imports,“ she added.

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