On August 31st at 16:00 was held at the Meriton Grand Conference & Spa Hotel the first 2012 “Best of Baltic” Award ceremony.
The ceremony was attended by 34 tourism professionals, hotel and restaurant general managers and members of the press.
Pierre Blime is the Director of the Baltic Ambassador Programme since 2006. Baltic Ambassador visits about 100 tour and MICE operators in 8 European countries every year to promote the best Baltic Sea Region destinations to them and push for more traffic toward those destinations.
The Baltic Ambassador Programme works with 208 tour/MICE operators and so far has represented 36 Baltic destinations to them.
Mr. Blime gave an overview presentation about the challenges that Estonia is facing as a tourism destination and a number of opportunities that present to this sector for future development.
After describing the advantages and the limits of what the Baltic Ambassador Programme can do for tourism destinations to market themselves better, Mr. Blime presented the awards to the winning destinations.
Out of 17 Estonian finalist destinations, 4 destinations received a 2012 “Best of Baltic” Award. The selection was voted via an online platform by 32 tour/MICE operators regularly sending travelers to Estonia.
Some of the criteria of evaluation were “excellence in tourism”, “price/quality ratio” and “representative of local culture”. The awards were given, in order of ranking to the medieval restaurant Olde Hansa, Vihula Manor Country Club & SPA, Meriton Grand Conference & SPA Hotel and Nordic Hotel Forum.
A special award of recognition went to the Seaplane Harbour Museum in Tallinn.
Mr. Blime concluded that the challenge for the future of tourism in Estonia is to be able to provide at the same time quality and unique experience, while remaining price competitive.
Quoting a number of Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish tour/MICE operators met during the Baltic Ambassador missions, Mr. Blime said that right now some Estonian destinations “offer the best value for money” in Europe.
He concluded that he hopes it will stay the same and that a number of opportunities with emerging markets will be seized. Mr. Blime added that “Tallinn should not remain content of the high figures thanks to cruise ship tourism – a not so profitable customer – but should use the summer high cruise ship traffic to promote better regular tourism the rest of the year”.