The travel agency Aurinkomatkat announced on Wednesday that it will start package tours to Lapland and Ruka.
At a press conference in Helsinki, the company's CEO Timo Kousa told reporters that the project is based on interrupted trips abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- We want to make Finns' holiday dreams come true despite the difficult situation.
We believe that we can offer a new kind of holiday experience in the form of package tours and show the beautiful nature of Kuusamo and Lapland, which international tourists have been able to enjoy for years, Kousa outlined.
Concorde brought passengers to Rovaniemi in 1985. Photo: Heikki Sarviaho / Lehtikuva
Package trips can be booked to four destinations: Ruka, Saariselkä, Ylläs and Levi.
First up, the company offers either three-day or week-long trips.
- The second is a long weekend from Thursday to Sunday.
Then we have a weekly package from Saturday to Saturday.
We have the opportunity to increase our supply very flexibly.
According to Kousa, the packages include accommodation, Finnair's flights departing from Helsinki and the storage of 23 kg of luggage and 8 kg of hand luggage.
If desired, the customer can add air transfers from the airport to the hotel and back.
Since Finnish companies last organized package tours to Lapland 33 years ago, Kousa described the day as historic.
In the future, guests can experience local experiences in Lapland by staying overnight in igloos or ice and snow hotels, for example.
The first Rukan trips Aurinkomatkat will start on autumn holiday from 10 August.
Lapland's destinations will open on November 21, and trips will continue in early summer.
- Naturally, we try to make these year-round.
Places are selected for destinations where we know we have the best possible accommodation and services as well as a large number of activities for our customers.
Finnair 's tourist advertisement for Lapland from 1969.
Pertti Yliniemi, who was called the Tourism Emperor of Lapland, said at the event that 120,000 beds are available for passengers in Lapland and Ruka.
According to the man who owns the Lapland Hotels hotel chain, local tourism workers received a positive taste of Finnish travelers already in July.
- There was a lot of traffic in Lapland and Northern Norway, as well as in Ruka.
We have a lot of people who have never been to Lapland.
All Finns are very welcome.
According to CEO Kousa, the new package tours are aimed at maintaining and creating new work in the tourism industry to the north.
The project is also important for Aurinkomatkat's parent company Finnair, which has increased its flights to Lapland and Kuusamo.
Timo Kousa, CEO of Aurinkomatkat, hopes that the new trips to Lapland and Rukan will maintain and create employment in the tourism industry in Northern Finland.
According to him, Aurinkomatkat alone cannot save the industry. Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva
Kousa noted that the government's new travel restrictions will further impoverish air traffic in the near future, as does the entire tourism industry.
- You know how the situation, travel restrictions and Finland's chosen travel policy limit this.
After all, here is a situation where you can't get anywhere from here, and no one comes here either.
So far, the travel agency is not organizing tourist guides for its destinations.
Travelers can explore the sights, restaurants and ski trails on site by downloading the Aurinkomatkat mobile app.
Kousa said that the company has received positive feedback from customers about the application.
Difficult starting situation
When asked by Taloussanomat, Kousa said that Aurinkomatkat would start its recent project from a remarkably difficult starting situation.
The company is currently in co-operation negotiations for all personnel.
Almost all employees have been laid off since March and all travel destinations are closed.
- Winter sales are underway, but we will probably have to cancel the November trips.
Summer sales have pulled very well, but we are talking about an activity where a handful of 170 employees are at work.
After all, the situation is catastrophic.
This Finnish action will not save it.
Hiker in the Luosto terrain in 1976. Photo: Heikki Kotilainen / Lehtikuva
During the press conference, the people of the tourism industry also criticized the Government's corona policy.
According to Kousa, policy makers do not seem to understand the scope of the sector.
- It is as big as the Finnish forest industry and employs 142,000 people.
There is now an unemployment bomb for tens of thousands of workers.
We want to bring improvement to this situation with this little action.
The last time a domestic company organized package tours to Lapland was 33 years ago.
Photo from a family holiday with children on Suomutunturi in 1972. Photo: Pekka Haraste / Lehtikuva
Lapland Hotels' Yliniemi, for its part, criticized Finland's unilateral testing system and STM's and THL's mixed communication about quarantines.
Yliniemi found it special that the domestic testing system does not utilize antigen tests that are significantly cheaper than the current PCR tests.
- We are not happy with the government's policy, and here it is quite clear that the intention is to prevent mobility with the Constitution in any way.
This is harsh criticism, but I think it is appropriate
Fatbike cyclists in Ylläs in 2020. Photo: Visit Ylläs
According to Kousa, the entire domestic tourism industry will take part in a demonstration in front of the Parliament building on Thursday.
The event is due to issue a statement to policy makers.
- We hope that they will begin to better understand the current situation in the industry.
The situation is quite serious, Kousa said.
Sample prices for package tours
Ruka 3 nights: October 22-25, 2020, starting from 270 € / person
Levi 3 nights: 21-24 January 2021, starting from 332 € / person
Ruka 7 nights: 24-31.10.2020, from 390 € / person
Upstairs 7 nights: January 23-30, 2021, starting from 489 € / person
Saariselkä 7 nights: January 23-30, 2021, starting from 516 € / person
Two adults and two children (under 12)
Ruka 3 nights: 28.-31.1.2021, starting from 829 € / group
Upstairs 3 nights: 28-31.1.2021 from 1054 € / group
Ruka 7 nights: autumn holiday trip 10.-17.10.2020, from 1204 € / group
Saariselkä 7 nights: ski holiday trip 20-27 February 2021, from 1953 € / group
6 nights hotel accommodation + 1 night in special accommodation Levi or Ylläs: Lapland Hotels Snow Village
Prices for a 7-night trip from 795 € / person Levi: Golden Crown Levin Iglut
Prices for a 7-night trip from 690 € / person Saariselkä: Northern Lights Village Saariselkä
Source: Sun Trips