Tourist trips to Estonia organized by Latvian travel agencies are increasingly gaining popularity, and among the most popular destinations are Estonia's western islands. Representatives of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa's tourism sectors met with Latvian travel agents at the Estonian Embassy in Riga on Thursday to discuss this tourism. "Hiiumaa residents are quick to find their way to Latvia, but Latvians not so quick to find their way to Hiiumaa," said Hiiumaa Development Center tourism expert Anne-Ly Torstensson. "In recent years, however, there has been a clear growth trend in Hiiumaa's direction on the Latvians' part, and it is clear that travel styles are changing as well." While previously, visitors often came to Hiiumaa to hike and tent, now they are coming with groups of friends and family, staying in hotels, spending more time and looking for interesting activities available on the island, Torstensson said. As Latvia has [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[23]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] islands of its own, many Latvian visitors are interested in visiting several islands at once, and not just Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, but also the smaller islands surrounding them. Constantly being discussed is a ferry connection between Ventspils and Saaremaa, but this has not developed anywhere, admitted Estonian Ambassador to Latvia Arti Hilpus. Nonetheless, this does not affect trips originating in Riga. Kati Aus, a tourism specialist with Visit Saaremaa, said that there should still be a Ventspils ferry. "Even people from Germany are requesting it," Aus said. "It existed once — I think it concluded some ten years ago — but to this day, people ask about it at the Saaremaa Tourist Information Center." Latvian travel agencies offer trips to dozens of Estonian destinations.
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