Northern Finland welcomed record visitor numbers from overseas in December, despite the initially un-snowy weather.
Visitors from around the world boosted the ongoing growth of tourism in Finnish Lapland in 2018, the broadcaster Yle reports citing Statistics Finland.
Overnight stays by non-Finns increased by 6% during the year over the previous year, with visitors from the UK and France topping the list. But overnight stays by domestic travellers remained static compared to 2017.
Lapland’s busiest season is traditionally December, of course, with families flocking in to meet Santa Claus in the town of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle – despite the initially un-snowy weather in early December 2018 forcing operators to cancel trips.
Yet there was a 5% increase in overnight stays recorded in December, reaching 490,000.
Across the whole of Finland, including Finnish Lapland, for the whole year, there were 1.4% more overnight bookings in 2018 reaching a total of 22 million overnight stays. A record 3 million of these were in Lapland.
Rovaniemi itself had the most hotel rooms booked in December, where occupancy stood at 91% for the month, up 0.9 percentage points over the same month the previous year.
Hotels in Inari and Kittilä were also in high demand in December with a 76% occupancy rate.
However, the actual figures for overnights in Lapland are likely to be even higher as the numbers reported by Statistics Finland do not include private rental cabins or Airbnb.