Coastal tourism entrepreneurship during COVID-19 in Estonia, Finland and Latvia


  • Linda Veliverronena Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences
  • Ilze Grinfelde Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Social, Economic and Humanities Research
  • Sanna-Mari Renfors Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Center for Tourism Business Development
  • Marit Piirman University of Tartu Pärnu College
  • Margrit Kärp University of Tartu Pärnu College
  • Tiina Viin University of Tartu Pärnu College



Covid-19 pandemic, coastal and maritime tourism, business resilience, skills, tourism development; learning needs


The comparative study focuses on the resilience of small tourism enterprises in coastal and marine tourism in three Baltic Sea countries - Estonia, Finland and Latvia. The research aim is to explore the response of the micro and small-scale tourism enterprises in Estonia, Finland and Latvia to COVID-19 and their development plans in the context of the pandemic. These countries share common strengths and weaknesses in tourism as well as their main tourism resources (e.g., the significance of natural resources), partially overlapping target markets. Data were collected in coastal regions in all three countries by using semi-structured interviews (Estonia N=12, Latvia N=12, Finland N= 5). Additionally, a quantitative data collection tool - a survey (N=51) was used in Finland. The content analysis generated several themes: (1) The ability of an enterprise to adapt to changes; (2) future expectations; (3) educational needs; (4) mind-set changes of entrepreneurs as a result of corona-pandemic and motivation to learn. Results suggest that more than before, coastal entrepreneurs estimate the rationality of decisions and the feasibility of investments. They report the ability to transform the design of tourism services to move towards touchless, digitized solutions as well as present an ability to produce unique service ideas under the pressure of the pandemic. Future expectations are related to the need for intensified cooperation among public and private sectors and different sectors of the economy to ensure entrepreneurial resilience and/or development. Entrepreneurs also stress their expectations regarding public (e.g. in nature areas) infrastructure development.  COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the emergence of business shrinkage strategies and vigilance toward development. The pandemic aggravated the deficit of employees and is directly linked to human resource motivation programs and the lack of resources needed to maintain that. Educational needs reveal several categories of topics entrepreneurs would like to learn about such as marketing, tourism product, and service design, management, and cooperation. The results in the three countries show a lot of similarities, the biggest differences can be seen in the various educational needs, also not in all countries the pandemic increased awareness of the role of cooperation or need to improve the quality of service when facing falling demand.