Finns taking the short boat ride to Estonia to stock up on alcohol is helping fund Estonian cultural activities and literature, as a percentage of alcohol taxes in the nearby country is put towards culture foundations.
There are only a little over a million native Estonian speakers worldwide, but the Baltic nation’s language group boasts a relatively vibrant literature scene. Among the reasons for that is the expanding alcohol retailing industry, introduced mainly to cater for tourists from across the Gulf of Finland looking to buy cheaper drinks than what they can in their homeland.
Some of the funds raised from alcohol taxes are then allocated to cultural funds set up to support many books published in the Estonian language. One such fund, the Eesti Kulturkapital, was launched during Estonia’s period of independence between Wolrd War I and World War II. It was reintroduced in 1994, and now is mainly funded by taxes on alcohol, gambling and tobacco.
Estonian law states that 3.5 per cent of all tax revenue on alcohol and tobacco, and 43 per cent of that on gambling tax proceeds, are allocated to the fund. In 2012, this amounted to 12.7m euros from sales of alcohol and tobacco, and 3.5m euros from gambling.
Meanwhile, the figures from the Finnish Commerce Federation showed that 84 per cent of Finns who visited Estonia purchased alcohol. In total, Finns imported 28.5m litres of alcohol from the nearby country. It would cost around 300m euros to buy the same quantity of alcohol from bars or at Alko in Finland.
photo: Robert S. Donovan