Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Rovaniemi’s unique features inflate tourist inflow

08 Jan 2018, 01:06 ( 11 Months ago)

DF Photo.

Come Christmas, come tourists from across the globe to Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus, to experience the land of myths, beauty and festivity.

Every day, 20 domestic and international flights carry in visitors to the city. So far this year, Rovaniemi has received more than 250,000 tourists, and the figure is expected to skyrocket this December. But how do the foreign visitors fare here? To know that and to know their mind and impressions, the Daily Finland interviewed a few foreign tourists individually in the city.

Although motivations to visit Rovaniemi may vary from person to person, most of them are here to visit the Santa Claus Village and experience the snow and, if lucky enough, the northern lights. Nut, the interviewees seemed quite satisfied with the northern light tour packages offered by local travel operators. “We did not see the northern lights, still we are happy with the tour guide and the services of Easy Tour,” said Sylvia Chandler who came with Nathan Chandler from Australia.

Meeting the almost mythical personality of Santa is not the sole reason why so many people go to the Santa Claus Village, the free entry to this dreamland almost round the year is also a key factor, said Lim Zen Yang, a student of 23 from Malaysia. It is his first visit to Rovaniemi.

Many of the tourists also want to go inside the Arctic Circle where Santa and his reindeer live and send letters home and to friends with the unique postmark of the Santa Claus Main Post Office, the only place where one can get it in the world. Makoto Kashiwada and Suzu Kadena from Japan expressed satisfaction at the services received in the village.  

Husky ride and reindeer sledging are also two other top favourite services. Most of the interviewees sounded contented. “The information desk in the city centre is really helpful. I can manage to go around the city with the help of a map and street signs,” said Xing Yi Hong hailing from China.

Lim Zen Yang said his visits to the Arktikum Museum and the Pilke Science Centre were nothing short of “eye-opening experience,” but, he said, the Santa Claus Village should be a “must-visit place in one’s life.”

Unexpectedly, the weather this time this year has been much warmer than that in 2016, which on the one hand made travelling easier for many visitors and, on the other, downed the mood of some who had been looking forward to enjoy an Arctic winter.

Like everything in life, no matter how good a thing is it invariably comes with a few bad aspects. For example, a number of the tourists consider the cost of visiting the Santa Claus Village a little too high. Both Kashiwada and Yang said taking photos with Santa in the village was too expensive for students.

Chandler, on the other hand, maintains that the activities and the costs somehow align closely. He also appreciated the city’s public transport system, which he said is not costly at all for the tourists.

“The bus trips are not so frequent and convenient as in other cities,” remarked Kashiwada.

Noticeably, most of the interviewees were from Asian countries. There has recently been a steady rise in the number of Asian tourists to Rovaniemi. According to the statistics of Visit Finland, the city this year has received almost 53,000 visitors from Asia, compared to about 104,000 arriving in the entire Lapland region. Clearly, Asia is now one of the most potential tourism markets for Rovaniemi.

So far, Rovaniemi has made great efforts to set up new signs and making maps available to help tourists navigate around the city and find their way easily from the railway station to the city centre. But, as the number of foreign tourists has been skyrocketing, a better public transportation is also becoming a must to ensure good tourism experience and sustain the popular image of the city.

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