Due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of tourists flocking to the town of Lapland in the Rovaniemi region of Finland has decreased significantly and the fairy world of Santa Claus has become unusually deserted.
A gloomy Christmas in the land of Santa Claus
Every year, on this occasion, international tourists flock to Santa Claus Village amusement park in the snowy northernmost region of Finland. They come here to enjoy reindeer rides, experience life in snow castles and most especially meet funny Santa Claus.
However, with travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of tourists flocking to this town of Lapland in the Rovaniemi region has decreased significantly and the wonderland of Santa Claus has returned. strangely desolate.
Sharing with the press through a glass window, Santa Claus said “this is a very special and difficult year”. However, he also urged visitors to take advantage of their time at this amusement park to enjoy the joy of Christmas, forgetting the troubles of the previous time.
If you can’t make it to Lapland, people can still book a private and face-to-face chat with Santa. Since its opening, this service, which costs 79 euros (equivalent to 97 USD), lasts for 5 minutes, has been very popular.
Since the 80s of the last century, international tourism organizations have simultaneously introduced the town of Rovaniemi as the ‘real’ home of Santa Claus, helping the Finnish town of Lapland to attract a large number of tourists from all over the world. .
In 2019, the number of tourists flocking here has reached a record number of 2.9 million, of which the majority are visitors from Europe and Asia. However, this number has dropped significantly this year, to just 0.5 million people. Most visitors to Santa Claus Village have been visiting since the beginning of 2020, before the SARS-CoV-2 virus appeared and caused the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit Rovaniemi’s chief executive officer (CEO) Sanna Karkkainen said: ‘Local people’s livelihoods are really in jeopardy. We have received the first bankruptcy notices, and expect to receive more similar announcements in the near future.”
According to Ms. Karkkainen, during the time Finland closed to international tourists to prevent the chain of spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the town of Lapland lost 5,000 jobs, a loss of about 70% (equivalent to 700 million). euros) revenue from tourism.
The underground amusement park Santa Park has cut staff from 400 people to just 36 people and is expected to reopen in winter 2021. Meanwhile, the luxury hotel Arctic Treehouse is also forced to close. door this winter. However, many businesses in Rovaniemi are looking for ways to overcome difficulties, taking advantage of this reluctant “opportunity of absence” to implement new projects.
Mr. Ville Haavikko and his colleagues are performing the final stages of the construction of the Arctic Ice and Snow Hotel. They used chainsaws to carve the steps themselves and attached thick blocks of ice to the walls. Mr. Haavikko said: ‘We have managed to keep the business afloat and create jobs for people because we have permanent staff, they also have families and concerns of their own. ‘.
Usually ‘hundreds of customers per day’ stay in these glass igloos, hoping to see the Northern Lights (colorful lights in the Arctic sky). But all those igloos are now empty and only a handful of guests have booked.
Due to only serving domestic tourists, the workers built an ice hotel with 11 rooms, 50% of the size of a regular hotel. Each room is decorated with intricate ice sculptures in themes ranging from arctic forests to circuses.
At his home, Santa Claus is going through a list of thousands of Christmas wishes that children from all over the world have sent him. He smiled and sent a message to everyone that closing the borders would not make it difficult to deliver the gifts.
He asserted: ‘I have great news for you. This year also still has Christmas and Christmas is very close. So remember to do good and enjoy this holiday safely.”
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