If you want to secure a white Christmas, you should book a holiday home in Lapland in the near future, say Lapland's tourism entrepreneurs.
- Yes, you can get to Lapland, although there has been more interest in Finland, says Nina Forsell from the Lapland Tourism Industry Association.
- You should make reservations soon so that you get what you want.
According to Forsell, the most popular accommodations are already well booked.
- The most popular types of accommodation are cottage-like properties and holiday apartments, which can be joined together with your own group, says Katja Rauhala, Sales Manager at Visit Levi.
Visit Levi's Christmas and end-of-year booking rate is currently about 85 percent of the same period last year, but the situation is still alive.
However, due to the lack of foreign tourists, the booking rate will be lower in the first two weeks of December.
Skier on a slope in Ylläs. Photo: Aku Häyrynen
In Ylläs, the booking situation in December seems to be up to 10 percent better than last year, says Juha Purhonen, Business Director.
- In the new year, there are fewer reservations because Russian passengers are missing, Purhonen says.
Purhonen estimates that the reservations will be distributed fairly evenly this Christmas among different types of cottages.
- Traditionally, larger cottages have been of interest because Christmas is a family celebration, but I think that because of the corona, they are not organized like that now.
VR is already selling seats on Christmas and New Year's Eve night trains.
Friday, December 18, seems to be the busiest day for northbound traffic, and trains are starting to get full.
According to VR, the most popular days in the return direction are the day of slaughter and 2 January.
Finnair intends to review the number of flights to Lapland in the near future according to demand.
VR is already selling seats for Christmas and New Year's Eve night trains. Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva
Passengers boarding a Finnair flight at Kuusamo Airport in December 2019.Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva
Decisions on restrictions are expected
Tourism entrepreneurs in Northern Finland are eagerly awaiting the government's possible tourism restrictions.
In a normal year, 70 per cent of Lapland's tourists are foreigners, and the importance for turnover is even greater.
This year, foreign tour operators have canceled their trips throughout the year due to the corona epidemic and travel restrictions.
It will soon be Christmas time on the trigger.
- In the case of foreign tourists, there is still talk of just over three-digit flights, says Ari Vuorentausta, CEO of Lapland Hotels.
- So these are significant amounts and the situation is expected to be resolved this week and next.
This is of great importance for employment in the Lapland region.
Lapland Hotels, for example, has been in co-determination during the autumn, and the number of people employed in the winter depends a lot on foreign tourists.
- It is quite clear that this year we will hire far fewer seasonal workers than before.
Canceling reservations from international tour operators would free up a lot of accommodation from northern destinations, which is now marked as reserved.
According to Rauhala, however, British Travel Companies, among others, have already canceled their reservations from Levi until the end of the year.
Domestic tourists broke records
In October, domestic tourists produced a pleasant surprise for many Lapland tourism companies.
- Sales at Visit Levi in October have so far increased by 37 percent compared to October last year, which we are very pleased about, Rauhala says.
- Many Finnish families, who have previously traveled to Greece and Spain, now found Lapland nicely on their autumn holidays.
Skiers on the Levi slope in Kittilä. Photo: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva
The same is said about Lomarenka, which cares for cottages.
- In October, the booking situation in Ylläs, for example, has doubled since last year, says Purhonen.
According to him, the same phenomenon has been observed all over Finland in Lomarenka.
Despite seasonal peaks and records, domestic tourists are unable to make up for the shortage of foreign travelers.
- Reservations for domestic tourists are timed for Christmas and ski holidays and spring, while there are foreign tourists from November to February, partly appropriately overlapping, says Vuorentausta.
The travel restrictions imposed on Ruka in Kuusamo due to the corona also cause significant losses compared to a normal year.
- After all, we have organized the Winter Sports World Cup and charter flights for Christmas, which have been big things for customers, says Mats Lindfors from Ruka-Kuusamo Tourism.
- Yes, they leave us with a big hole that is impossible to patch through domestic demand.
Skiers carrying their equipment in Ruka, Kuusamo. Photo: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva