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Massive losses cause anxiety in tourist business
Published : 08 May 2020, 22:13
As the Finnish tourism industry has been at a nearly total standstill since late March due to the COVID-19, enterprises have been concerned about their ability to survive until the business could resume, reported news agency Xinhua.
In northern Finland's Lapland area, which is well-known for its ice industry and natural sceneries, nearly half of the enterprises responding to a survey by the Lapland Tourist Board this week indicated they would "not last for more than five months," if the situation does not improve. There are 1,800 tourist business locations in Lapland, mostly small or medium size, the Board said.
Pertti Yliniemi, the chairman of the Lapland Tourist Board, said on Yle on Friday that fast public assistance should be given to the whole tourism industry, not only to restaurants, as so far envisaged by the government.
March saw a major decline in tourists' overnighting in Lapland. Statistics Finland reported that 119, 000 people stayed in Lapland accommodation establishments in March 2020, which was a decline of 45.7 percent from March 2019.
In national statistics, from January to March 2020, 4.5 million nights were spent in Finnish accommodation establishments. This was 12.5 percent less than in the Q1 of 2019, as reported by Statistics Finland recently. The biggest drop was in stays by Chinese tourists, down by 35, 500 nights to 71, 000, which meant 33.2 percent down from Q1 of 2019.
On Friday, Paavo Virkkunen, head of the state tourism organization Visit Finland, told a Finnish language business daily Kauppalehti that "hopefully the services can be maintained until demand picks up again."
Virkkunen was optimistic however, that the Nordic countries may emerge well again, as they can be "perceived as attractive targets now." Health care and infrastructure are optimal, and it is easy to keep distance to other persons there," he elaborated.
Earlier this week the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment estimated that the tourism industry would suffer a 60 percent decline in revenue this year, if recovery begins in September. At worst, the decline in turnover would be 11 billion euros from the 16 billion euros last year.
A Finnish language business newspaper Talouselama reported earlier that even with the most positive predictions, demand for tourist services in Finland next year would decline to the level of 1995. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the turnover estimate for 2021 was close to 17 billion euros.