Russian tourists eager to book holidays in Finland despite border closure

A boat with people embarks for a tour in Helsinki, Finland, May 3, 2017. (Ints Kalnins/File Photo/Reuters)
Hotels in eastern Finland say there has been an upsurge in attempted bookings by Russian tourists for late July, though there is no word yet as to when the border will reopen.

“Some Russians seem to think that the Finnish-Russian border will reopen on 15 July,” says Anne Kaarnijärvi, director of the Holiday Club Saimaa hotel.

The hotel’s sales staff has corrected the misinformation and declined to take any new reservations from Russian customers. They have been advised to wait until coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted.

That is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the pandemic situation is much worse in Russia than Finland, where few new cases have been found in recent weeks despite stepped-up testing.

Meanwhile the Imatra Spa Resort reports that some Russian tourists who made bookings for June and July before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have been rescheduling them for August and September.

No decision on opening external Schengen border

Restrictions on travel over the Finnish-Russian border are scheduled to remain in effect until at least 14 July. No decisions have yet been made on extending or ending the restrictions.

Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo told Yle last week that tourism to and from Russia will be among the last sectors to be allowed to reopen.

The frontier between the two countries is also an external border of the Schengen Area. No decision has been made about reopening the 26-nation passport-free zone to tourism, either.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Scrapped 2020 cruise season will cost communities in Nunavut, Canada almost $1 million, Eye On The Arctic

Finland: Finland joins other Nordic countries in virtual tourism due to pandemic, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland aims to encourage domestic tourism with latest aid package, Eye On The Arctic

Iceland: Iceland offers COVID-19 testing to international travellers starting June 15, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norwegian Arctic wilderness tourism hit particularly hard by coronavirus, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: All Russia’s North Pole cruises rescheduled to 2021, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden seen as major source of COVID-19 in Western Finland region, Yle News

United States: Airline shutdown creates new challenges for rural Alaska, The Associated Press

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