British holidaymakers have long dominated Lapland’s international tourism market but the region is now looking towards Russia and central Europe to bolster its visitor numbers.
The global economic downturn has hit tourism to the Arctic region particularly hard, with experts not predicting a recovery until late 2010. While Lapland is undergoing a slow but steady resurgence in incentive travel, the customary Christmas peak season outlook remains grim.
Tourism operators in the United Kingdom, the traditional mainstay of Lapland travel, have confirmed that flight bookings will continue to show effects of the recession until December next year reports Helsinki Times. “Internationally, Lapland’s most important source of tourism is the United Kingdom. During the Christmas season in particular, tourists have traditionally come from there,” says Finavia sales manager Thomas Kingelin.
An estimated 400 international charter flights are expected this December in Lapland, a fall of around 20 percent from last year. Tourists can also access the region by Finncom, Blue 1 and Finnair flights via Helsinki. “Charter flight reservations have been made by foreign tour operators, and at the moment they’re being heavily marketed to fill capacity,” said Kingelin.
Kingelin claimed that Russia and central Europe were essential to market growth, along with the possibility of extending the area’s tourism season in order to maximise visitor numbers. “The greatest source of potential growth in Lapland’s regional economy lies in foreign tourism, not forgetting domestic tourism, of course”.
British tourists flock to Lapland because most children in the country believe Santa Claus lives in Lapland, the natural home of the reindeer; although children in many other countries believe he resides at the North Pole, or in Greenland, Norway, Sweden, or even Turkey.