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Cruise firm Tallink suspends Turku-Tallinn route

The shipping group's CEO blamed ticket sales declines on "mixed messages" from the Finnish media about travel advice.

Tallink Silja Baltic Queen.
Tallink's Baltic Queen cruise ship, file photo. Image: Tallink group

Estonian-based shipping firm Tallink Grupp has announced that it is suspending its route between Turku, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia because of a coronavirus-related decline in passenger numbers.

The cruise ship company's ticket sales were significantly down due to passengers' fears over possible looming travel restrictions, Paavo Nõgene, Tallink Grupp's CEO, said in a release.

"As a direct result of significant information noise and mixed messages circulating in the Finnish media regarding the latest travel advice, the ticket sales of ferry companies have significantly reduced as passengers are confused about the travel advice and nervous about purchasing tickets for fear that they will face the possibility of a quarantine at very short notice if they do travel," Nõgene said, adding that "great numbers" of customers had been cancelling trips.

"The tourism sector will be under significant pressure until at least until next summer. Decisive action by our governments is vital and requires swift action for the survival of our sector in this pandemic situation," Nõgene said.

Cruise business down

On Monday, Finnish shipping company Viking Line said it had begun co-determination talks that could result in up to 200 job cuts and that its business had been dramatically affected by the epidemic. In its half-year financial report released last week, Viking Line said its turnover was less than half of what it was during the first six months of 2019.

Earlier this month the firm's subsidiary Tallink Silja announced plans to temporarily suspend ticket sales for trips between Stockholm and Turku on its Baltic Princess ship, due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Tallink's cruise liner the Baltic Queen began shuttling passengers between Turku and Tallinn on a temporary basis in early July and was scheduled to continue sailing the route every weekend until at least the end of the year.

The company said it would contact all passengers with future bookings on the route as soon as possible.

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