Tips and information in travelling to Estonia
While travelling probably you’ve experienced the feeling of uncertainty, which is created by lack of knowledge about what lies ahead. Is the hotel accessible as is advertised in their website? Where can I find accessible transfer if I couldn´t find information about it from the Internet nor was understandable capability of local public transport? What is the accessibility situation of streets for independent travelling, and are different local tourist attractions accessible for everyone? And how to be sure that everything goes well if there is nobody waiting or assisting in airport or port? What is clear is that every time you visit a new country, you take the risk of being exposed to high stress and ignorance. How is the situation in Estonia, let´s read about it from below.
A brief overview of the accessible tourist information and regulations in Estonia
Regulations in Estonian tourism are established by the Tourism Act, which came into force in 2001. This law does not address a single word about the rights of people with special needs, but there is special regulation from 2002 in the Building Act from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. That regulation is called „Requirements for people with mobility, vision and hearing impairment to ensure the mobility in public buildings“ (unfortunately it is only in Estonian, but you can find a little more information about it in English from our website Accessible Tourism in Estonia). So far this act has been the basis for constructing or renovating public buildings and adjusting them to the needs and interests of consumers. Since most hotels, shopping centers, street network, public buildings such as theaters, cinemas, concert halls, museums are either renovated or built within the last decade, therefore they are accessible.
National and local tourist information for people with special needs
Estonian tourism policy is lead by the Estonian Tourist Board (Enterprise Estonia), who also manages and develops the official Estonian tourist information website. In cooperation with the Estonian mobility impairment unions, the Estonian Tourist Board has gathered in their website brief overview about the accessibility situation in Estonia. You can get acquainted with objects that have been audited regarding accessibility in the Freedom of Movement website. Wishing to support this information to widespread, in website of Accessible Baltics you can find most relevant information and channels. While planning a trip to Estonia we recommend to read this information carefully. Although we wish to draw attention to the fact that in Estonia unfortunately there still hasn´t formed so-called inclusive tourism best practices, which could help local service providers constantly follow same standards in customer service for people with special needs, and in development of physical environment. Therefore we often see, for example in the official Estonian tourism website, service providers who have no or few experience and knowledge in providing quality service, but still they are being advertised. For example, despite many offers from Estonian spa and wellness centers the vast majority of them are far from being fully accessible. To leave aside modern hotels in bigger cities, finding good-quality accommodation that is suitable for wheelchair users too in the idyllic countryside is rather difficult. Therefore we recommend to previously contact accommodation providers to find out their true capability, because they might have different conceptions of space functionality. On the bright side, service quality and standards about accessibility are getting more and more attention, and the level of service is growing rapidly.
When planning your journey always ask yourself whether different websites gave enough answers to your questions, or rather intensified the expectation to receive assistance and additional guarantees from someone who orientates well both in tourism as well as recognizing and satisfying the needs and expectations of people with special needs. If that is the case, we are always available for you.