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Tourism in Lapland on the mend

Published : 26 Jul 2020, 22:04

Updated : 26 Jul 2020, 22:43

  DF Report by Gishnizjani Golnar

Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi. DF Photo.

Lapland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Finland that reached a new record high last year, with more than 3.1 million tourists staying in the region.

Despite all the attractions of this area for travellers, coronavirus has had a very negative impact on this thriving industry in Lapland.

To understand the details of the developments in the tourism industry in the last few months in the north of Finland and also the plans of tourism operators after the relaxation of restrictions, the Daily Finland talked to Sanna Kärkkäinen, managing director of Visit Rovaniemi, the local tourist board of the Rovaniemi region in Lapland.

Kärkkäinen said, “Until March last year, we had a record-breaking winter season in Lapland, including Rovaniemi. However, everything changed at the end of January last. Since then, we had received a considerable number of cancellations from the Chinese market, a trend that was followed by other markets in February and March. “March was like a tragedy, as similar to other countries, tourism was suspended here and we informed all remaining travellers remaining in the region to plan their homebound journeys taking the exceptional circumstances created in Finland by the COVID-19 outbreak,” she added.

Kärkkäinen told the Daily Finland that “during the lockdown in and prohibition of travelling to Finland, all tourism operators here kept up hope and dreamt about a better future to come. To keep in touch with potential travellers and to remind them of the beauty of Rovaniemi, we started to share stories and memories of our travellers and stayed optimistic with this particular slogan ‘travelling and holidays would wait until a better time Rovaniemi would be awaiting’.”

“Now, with the level of restrictions in Finland decreasing,” Kärkkäinen went on, “tourism industry is expecting more visitors in Lapland. She said, “The tourism industry in Lapland is reviving now with the accessibility of different transportations (flights, trains, buses, rental cars, and taxis) on the rise. Indeed, we need to have matching connections on route flights and great cooperation for charter flights as well. Moreover, we must support local tourism businesses such as hotels, safari companies, sights, attractions, and restaurants to rebuild and boost tourism livelihood in Lapland, since they are the key elements of the industry.” She emphasised the importance of marketing at this time and said, “Visit Rovaniemi has joined both the public and private sectors in marketing and communications for the entire tourism destination and that has been a positive collaboration for the recovery process as well.”

To gain the trust of travellers in this post-coronavirus time, Visit Rovaniemi, with its partners, has been running the Sustainable Travel Finland Programme, which contributes to developing local tourism more responsibly. The Visit Rovaniemi MD also mentioned that “with the cooperation of all members of the local tourism industry, we have been piloting the general guidelines for safety with the Lapland Hospital District. “Under the supervision of head of infectious diseases at the Lapland Central Hospital Markku Broas, we have joined forces with the tourism sector, the Lapland Central Hospital and the Lapland Hospital District for better health safety of travellers and suppliers in Rovaniemi as well as in entire Lapland.”

“The means of assuring the visitors and the tourism staff of their health safety is the common guidelines that are communicated thoroughly in domestic and international travel in all the touchpoints of tourism as well as responsible working methods for all tourism sectors for all service providers. More importantly, hotels, restaurants, and other popular attractions for visitors are committed to obeying all health protocols first for themselves and then for others,” she added.

Kärkkäinen said, “Based on the current information, domestic tourism has already had a good start in the summer season and now we are looking forward to welcoming our international visitors.” “It must be said that tourist industry in Lapland now looks positively into the upcoming Christmas and winter season and hopes to receive travellers from all our key markets, starting with the United Kingdom and followed by other European countries”. “On the other hand,” she said, “for Asian, American, and Australian markets,” our tourism sector is still monitoring the behaviour of COVID-19 there and is waiting to hear more about their recovery process. Measures will be taken according to the circumstances of each of the areas.”