The number of Russian tourists visiting Finland is expected to reach record levels this January, in sharp contrast to one year ago when Russians travelled much less due to the recession. Russian visitors will spend an estimated EUR 100,000 million in Finland over the first two weeks of the year, according to the Finnish Tourism Board.
Many Russian visitors head to Lapland, while others stay in spas and cottages or go shopping further south. Finland’s convenient location and strong winter image make it an attractive destination for Russian tourists. New Year trips to Finland are traditionally very popular and competitive in terms of price, according to Arto Asikainen from the Finnish Tourism Board.
The city of Rovaniemi, capital of Finnish Lapland, has increased the number of Russian-speaking customer service personnel this winter. In addition to the New Year, Lapland is also aiming to attract Russian visitors at other times of the year, for example for cottage and fishing holidays. Airports in Lapland are already being used by wealthy Russians flying in with their own aeroplanes.
Eastern Finland has also attracted large numbers of Russian visitors, with the scenic area of Koli being especially popular. Russian tourists have discovered North Karelia, according to Markku Litja from the Karelia Expert Travel Service, and are spending about 15,000 overnight stays in the region this winter.
More Russians are also staying in the town of Imatra than ever before, with all accommodation establishments fully booked. Tourist accommodation in Lappeenranta is also scarce this time of the year.