On Sunday, the Arctic Christmas tourism season in Finland was formally opened, with a speech by Santa Claus, calling for peace and understanding.
“Just like the strong Arctic winds, unkind words can make anyone shiver,” he said. “My wish is that this Christmas season be filled with friendly thoughts, words and gestures. Let us embrace Christmas with tolerance and goodwill.”
Some 90,000 tourists each year currently visit a Santa Claus-themed village dating from 1985 just a few kilometers north of Rovaniemi. But plans are underway for a far larger “Republic of Santa Claus” theme park further north of the city that aims to draw as many as 10 million visitors to the Arctic.