Arctic Finland looks for boost from Chinese tourists

Vicki Kwok of Hong Kong was visiting Rovaniemi in February. (Uula Kuvaja / Yle)
Vicki Kwok of Hong Kong was visiting Rovaniemi in February. (Uula Kuvaja / Yle)
Growing numbers of Chinese tourists are expected to visit Finnish Lapland as the Regional Council of Lapland expands contacts with China’s Sichuan province.

Tourist industry hopes are being pinned on the possibility of a direct air connection between Sichuan and Finland.

In January, Finance Minister Antti Rinne was in China promoting Finnish exports. His delegation included representatives of Finnair. Rinne told Yle he is confident that a direct air connection between Sichuan in southwest China and Finland would boost visitors to Lapland.

“It was very evident that provincial representatives are really interested in Finland’s natural environment, in the clean air and the clean water. They were very interested in cooperation with Lapland in tourism affairs,” explained Rinne.

The province of Sichuan has a population of around 80 million and a fast-growing economy.

“Economic growth right now is at around ten percent and there are starting to be wealthier people who are particularly interested in visiting Lapland,” Rinne continued.

Beijing’s blessing

In addition to Finnair, Finance Minister Antti Rinne was also accompanied by representatives of several Lapland-based tourism sector companies that have partnered to open a Christmas-themed park close to Sichuan’s capital Chengdu.

Rinne said that discussions were held on the importance that a direct air connection would have, but he also pointed out that the venture would require approval by the central government.

The opening of cooperation between the province of Sichuan and the Regional Council of Lapland has already received Beijing’s blessing, Rinne told Yle.

“In practice, that means that the matter can go forward. This would be a significant boost to tourism sector employment in Lapland and have an impact on other businesses such as the service sector. It could be that it would draw in investment, as well.”

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