Santa Claus park outside Rovaniemi. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Santa gets more visitors than ever before

Tens of thousands of visitors from Asia and Europe are about to fly in to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland.
November 28, 2016

«Christmas and winter season is looking extremely good and record breaking,» says Sanna Kärkkäinen, Managing Director of Visit Rovaniemi.

Winter tourism is becoming one of the most important economic driving forces for northern Finland. At the airport in Rovaniemi, snow is being cleared away to make space for more flights. Branding itself as Santa Claus’s hometown is the recipe for success. Winter tourism to Lapland has a turnover of €700 million and is expected to double to €1,5 billion by 2025.

Between 140 and 160 charter flights are expected in the weeks to come. Those are in addition to regular flights bringing in tourists from the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Not least to talk about the visitors from Asia, with China Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea as the most important markets.

After a near-collapse of Russian visitors to Finnish Lapland two years ago, the numbers of Russian visitors are again on increase. 

50,000 from China next year

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«We have launched cooperation with Alitrip and that will bring more Chinese travelers in near future,» Kärkkäinen says. Belonging to Alibaba Group, Alitrip is one of the largest online travel booking sites in Asia. 

The group intend to sell tours for 50,000 Chinese to Lapland next season. For this season, there are hardly any more beds to book as peak hours is approaching. 

Sanna Kärkkäinen is Director of Visit Rovaniemi. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

New scheduled flights will soon open directly to Rovaniemi from European hubs like London Gatwick, Berlin and Zürich.  

Super good

It is not only Rovaniemi that sees a sharp increase in foreign visitors this winter. Destinations further north in Lapland, like Kittilä, Ivalo, Inari and  Saariselkä are also making ready for Christmas.

«I think in general Lapland is doing super good for the season and business is getting more international all the time,” Sanna Kärkkäinen tells and says next step is to attract tourists to come for the summer as well.» 

«That’s what we are focusing on now.» 

Niina Körkkö sells rides with Santa’s reindeer. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

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