Santa is back in business as Lapland expects tourism rebound

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By Euronews
Santa's Office and a Christmas tree at Santa Claus Village in the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland.
Santa's Office and a Christmas tree at Santa Claus Village in the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland.   -   Copyright  KAISA SIREN/Kaisa Siren / Lehtikuva

After the previous pandemic-hit Christmases, Santa is back in business in Lapland. The northern Finnish region, fabled as the home of Father Christmas, is preparing for a bumper season as tourists flock back. More than 63,600 arrivals are expected in Lapland's capital Rovaniemi.

The tourism industry is banking on a spectacular rebound, with new flights to the region and local resorts investing in extra accommodation and attractions.

"This season is definitely going to break records, already in December but further on we go for winter, January, February, March", says Sanna Kärkkäinen, CEO of Visit Rovaniemi. "It's going to be a strong full season for Lapland."

In the darkest days of the pandemic, tourism in Lapland dropped by up to 90%. Just 11,000 came in December 2020, most of which were from Finland. The previous record year for the city welcomed 61,000 people in December 2019, mainly from overseas, according to Visit Rovaniemi.

Expanding instead of saving

During the pandemic, Apukka's resort outside Rovaniemi completely shut down. But since the owners decided to expand. Harri Mällinen, CEO of Apukka Resort, says they were banking on a surge in interest from international travellers. 

"During the COVID pandemic, we invested about €4 million for accommodation", Harri Mällinen says. "And last summer, after the COVID pandemic, we invested another €4.5 million. So we have invested €8 million over the last two years," he explains. They built around 30 new accommodation units, and the gamble paid off. Last season, Apukka's turnover grew by 90%. This season, like many hotels in Lapland, they are already completely sold out.

This year Christmas spirit is alive and thriving in the land of Santa.

Watch the video in the player above.