Lapland's tourism entrepreneurs are annoyed and worried by the impression that Lapland's tourism would be unattainably expensive for ordinary citizens and that there would be "more Lapland" in the prices.
Ilta-Sanomat reported on Wednesday that a family of four staying overnight in an igloo in December, the weekend costs € 790 per room per night, three-hour visit to Santa's workshop, where with a five-minute meeting with Santa Claus EUR 350, or a half-day visit to a reindeer farm at EUR 450.
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- Those are services that Finns do not use at all.
The whole experience side of the product package is built on the need for foreign tourists, the hotel chain Lapland Hotels' owner Mr. Pertti Yliniemi notes.
Staying in a glass-walled igloo is clearly more expensive than ordinary hotel or cottage accommodation. Photo: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva
He adds that for Finns, northern lights, reindeer or Santa Claus are not exotic phenomena, unlike, for example, tourists from Central Europe or Asia.
Yrjötapio Kivisaari, CEO of the travel company Visit Levi, says that now that foreign tourists are not coming due to the corona pandemic, the big concern is that Finns' perception of Lapland's prices will be distorted and they will not go on holiday because of it.
- If you want to make price comparisons, you can find them anywhere.
You can even compare a basic three-euro burger to a burger made from beef steak, which costs several times as much.
Or compare a basic bag bought from Helsinki to a Louis Vuitton bag in Paris that costs 1,200 euros and say that it is expensive in Paris.
However, the wrong comparison gives a wrong impression, because these are completely different products, Kivisaari emphasizes.
For many foreign tourists, meeting Santa Claus and reindeer is the highlight - and they are willing to pay a lot for it. Photo: Aleksi Jalava / IS
Mauri Kuru, CEO of Destination Lapland in Ylläs, says the same.
- There are no things to compare, because this is a completely different customer segment.
The most expensive products and packages have been made for foreign tourists, whose relationship with nature is very different from that of Finns.
- For a foreign resident living in a city of millions, the Arctic conditions in Lapland are extremely exotic: if a reindeer comes to walk under a window or if a child walks to school or a baby is put out in a carriage to sleep in a 30-degree frost, Kuru describes.
Kivisaari reminds that there is a guaranteed holiday package in Lapland that is suitable for everyone's wallet.
He mentions a study of 1,200 people, according to which most Finns seek out landscapes, movement, peace and general existence in Lapland.
Outdoor activities and skiing in the beautiful landscape of Lapland are free and do not burden your wallet. Photo: Otto Ponto / Lehtikuva
- Then you can come to Lapland for a cheap holiday.
All kinds of products can be found.
If you arrive in the off-season with your own car and stay in a cottage that costs about 50 euros per person per night, with direct access to the free ski slopes from the door, then your holiday will be affordable.
It is not worth comparing the price to glass igloo, which is intended primarily for foreigners, Kivisaari compares.
- Some wealthy foreigners want such top services.
They often have their own bag carriers and safaris come with guides who speak their own language.
Tourism in Lapland was at record levels before the corona pandemic.
International tourism has previously grown by about four percent a year.
In December 2019, about 506,000 overnight stays were registered in Lapland, which was 18,000 more than a year earlier.
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The corona pandemic has hit all tourism entrepreneurs in Lapland hard.
Foreign tourists account for 70% of turnover.
Snowmobiles are allowed to go on safaris. Photo: Terhi Ylimäinen
For example, Destination Lapland in Ylläs normally has 30–40 safari guides in seasonal work, now maybe 1-2.
There have usually been about 66,000 foreign tourists in the Levi area in December, now 35 have been booked for December!
- It has a reduction of more than 65,900. It affects just about everyone with a population of 900 in Levi and 6,000 in Kittilä: from the airport's suitcase handler to the pharmacist and from the taxi driver to the checkout.
Some entrepreneurs keep their companies completely, Kivisaari describes.
There would have been significantly more foreign passengers coming to Lapland.
According to program manager Salla-Mari Koistinen, the social media channels of the marketing company House of Lapland have commented on how sad it is to visit Lapland or have shared memories from previous trips.
- New tourists say they are waiting for the opportunity to travel to Lapland.
As a result of the Korona, travel interest has declined somewhat.
Although dreams of travel are still dreamed, right now Lapland's tourism-related searches are about half less than last year at this time.
This is largely explained by travel restrictions and a decrease in marketing activities, Koistinen says.
The hustle and bustle at Lapland's airports has subsided. Photo: Terhi Ylimäinen
Kivisaari says that he is annoyed by the stagnation and unavailability of the state.
Already in the summer, Lapland's tourism entrepreneurs made a plan for a “travel bubble” in which foreign groups of passengers could have been brought to Lapland safely.
- The news was published just on Wednesday that no infections have been traced to public transport at all, nor to food restaurants or outdoor sports.
The government has not wanted to understand this, it has not been viewed from the point of view of tourism.
In sports, for example, there have been bubbles.
If we look at things with one eye, we get one-eyed decisions, Kivisaari says.
Attempts have been made to stimulate tourism in Lapland with package tours started by Aurinkomatkat and telework packages, which include their own space for teleworking.
It still does not make up for almost any loss of income from abroad.
Layoffs and non-washing by seasonal workers have been a harsh routine.
- Yes, this is a really tough place for many.
The tourism industry should now place even greater emphasis on being able to travel and move as long as you follow health safety guidelines.
Not everything is the fault of the government, Kuru has been in the tourism industry for 34 years.
The winter season is about to begin in Lapland, but where do skiers on the slopes and skiers on the trails come from? Photo: Aku Häyrynen / Lehtikuva
At any cost, however, entrepreneurs do not start to catch tourists.
- It does not work in such a way that entrepreneurs suddenly cut prices in half.
However, we live in a Finnish society where people have a salary, which means that there is no such possibility.
Surely it might come to mind that you can come and test and try some service, but not a herd of dogs with ten moves.
That's just nonsense, Yliniemi blinks.