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Managing Director Sanna Kärkkäinen and photographs of Rovaniemi, Source: Visit Rovaniemi

Santa Claus’ hometown hopes for a “fairly good” tourist season this Christmas

Santa Claus’ hometown hopes for a “fairly good” tourist season this Christmas

An interview with the Managing Director of Visit Rovaniemi Sanna Kärkkäinen

If you are wondering where to travel to for the upcoming Christmas season, look no further. The Finnish Lapland region – and more specifically, Rovaniemi – must certainly be your number one choice. With everything from beautiful snowy landscapes to Santa Claus himself, this location offers visitors all they need to experience a wonderful, magical Christmas.  

Understandably, many visitors are still anxious about travelling during the COVID pandemic. For this reason, TheMayor.EU has spoken to the Managing Director of Visit Rovaniemi Sanna Kärkkäinen who has commented on the epidemiological situation in the region, explaining what measures have been taken. Beyond this, she has given insight into what one may see and experience in Santa’s hometown.

Ms Kärkkäinen, what makes Rovaniemi attractive to tourists and what is it best known for?

Rovaniemi is known as The Official Hometown of Santa Claus © and renowned for its Christmas brand. It certainly is a popular travel destination, attracting visitors from all over the world to experience the magic of Lapland and to see Santa Claus any day of the year at Santa Claus Village. Rovaniemi is a true winter wonderland at the Arctic Circle, where you can experience the Northern Lights, snowy winters, and crisp weather.

Although the region is primarily known as a winter destination, it offers year-round tourism. Can you elaborate on what one can see and do during the summer months?

The summer months are filled with endless light – night and day – due to the amazing Midnight Sun, which makes exploring nature even easier. Locals spend long days outdoors in nature by the lakes and rivers, getting together in summer cabins and town festivals, seeing each other and enjoying life.

Finns are known to be the happiest people in the world – and the happiness level must be at its highest on light and easy summer days. We love to invite our dear guests to join us and find the beauty of living close to nature.

Rovaniemi offers a great variety of tours and activities, from biking to river boating, photography tours or visits to cultural venues: Arktikum, Korundi and Pilke. Not forgetting Santa Claus Village, which welcomes all the guests every day throughout the year.


Santa Claus in Rovaniemi's summer days 
(Source: Visit Rovaniemi)

What events can tourists look forward to in Santa Claus’ hometown this holiday season?

Rovaniemi celebrates the Grand Christmas Opening on 20 November, which is always the official opening of the Christmas Season. Then, we celebrate Santa departing on his way on 23 December. Everyone is welcome to follow the events either at the Arctic Circle, Santa Claus Village or online!

How did COVID impact tourism last year?

Like all destinations throughout the world, COVID-19 brought all businesses to a total standstill. Our destination was hit enormously by the lack of international travellers.

This Christmas season is a time of recovery, and our hopes are high for a fairly good season. We estimate that we will reach the pre-pandemic level by 2022-2023.


A reindeer in snowy Rovaniemi 
(Source: Visit Rovaniemi)

Expanding on this subject, what are your expectations for the coming months and what measures will be taken to ensure the safety of travellers?

The demand looks good and we are happy with the cooperation between airlines and tour operators. We expect to gain about 60-70% of travellers compared to the 2019 level.

Health and safety have been a top priority here in Lapland and our cooperation with the health network is steady and successful. The handling of the pandemic has been on an excellent level since the beginning.

We have organised great mass events like World Championships Rally (Arctic Rally Finland) and Nordics biggest Orienteering Relay Event (Jukolan viesti) without COVID-19 risks this year with great success.

All tourism service providers are well informed and well equipped for the season – and ready to work for the health and safety of the travellers, employees, and local residents. Together we care. Welcome to Lapland – we would love to see you here!

To view more photographs of Santa's hometown, see the gallery above.

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