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Air traffic boosts local economy in Finnish Lapland - Can you guess which three Asian nationalities visit Rovaniemi the most?

Article published
25.6.2019 at 09:00
A scenic view of a lake and mountain at Lapland.
The capital of Finnish Lapland attracts a considerable number of Asian guests who mostly arrive via domestic flights from Helsinki. How have these visitor numbers benefited the city?

Developing great connections is part of Finavia's corporate responsibility. Our Sum of Good Things article series highlights details of Finavia's responsibility work. This instalment focuses on the effects of flight connections to the local economy in Rovaniemi.

The city of Rovaniemi, with a population of 60,000, sits on the Arctic Circle. Around the world, the capital of Finnish Lapland is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, and the wilderness waiting just beyond Santa’s post office. Combined with Mr. Claus and reindeer, Rovaniemi’s Northern Lights vistas make it one of the most spellbinding bucket-list destinations in the age of Instagram.

Asian guests, most arriving via domestic flights from Helsinki, have been particularly intrigued by what Rovaniemi has to offer.

Reaping the benefits of the boom

“At Rovaniemi Airport, the busiest months in terms of Asian tourism arrivals are in the wintertime, from December until March,” says Johan Juujärvi, Airport Manager. “The last two years have seen very strong growth for Asian tourists and that growth looks to continue. Exactly how strong that will be, however, is quite difficult to forecast.”

This popularity has resulted in considerable figures in terms of registered overnight stays. According to data gathered by the tourism statistics group Visiittori, in 2018 the Chinese comprised the largest group from Asia (49,100). Singaporeans came next (16,000), followed by the Japanese (15,500).

In turn, these visitors, along with those from Europe, have helped local businesses in Rovaniemi. The city’s service sector – from hotels, safari companies and taxi companies to shops, restaurants and Airbnb rentals – has reaped the benefits of this boom.

Airport expansion and decarbonization

Rovaniemi Airport welcomed a total of 644,144 passengers in 2018. To better serve the growing numbers tourists, Finavia is set to expand the airport’s passenger terminal by over 75 percent.

The space for passengers will increase from the current 6,000 square metres to about 10,500 square metres, and the hourly capacity of the airport will increase from the current three planes to five planes. The expansion work will also provide job opportunities to local people and businesses. And of course, the new facilities will make the terminal more spacious and comfortable. The expansion project will be completed by the Christmas season of 2019.

Rovaniemi Airport is working to take care of the communities, wildlife and nature that surround it. “We fill up our cars and maintenance equipment with biodiesel from waste and residues. And we also heat some buildings using geothermal energy. A few years ago, we changed almost all the lights in the passenger terminal and runway to LED lights. Rovaniemi Airport, together with other Finavia airports, became carbon neutral in 2019,” says Juujärvi.

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