ROVANIEMI – THE CAPITAL OF LAPLAND AND SANTA CLAUS’ OFFICIAL HOMETOWN
The central location of Rovaniemi at the confluence of two major rivers has made it a natural centre for Finnish Lapland. The longest river in Finland, Kemijoki, connected the town to the sea. The construction of roads started in the mid-19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century the railway connection was opened. Today Rovaniemi has a busy and well-operating international airport, too. In 2009 there were over 300 000 passengers.
In the past few decades Rovaniemi has grown into a busy and active town. The population of Rovaniemi is about 60 000. In Rovaniemi 2 percent of the population earn their living from primary production, 15 percent from processing and construction. The vast majority of 80 percent from are employed by service sector. The majority of people working with the services are employed by the private service sector but public sector is also very important employer in this region. The number of jobs in the public sector has decreased during the past decades, and this means new challenges for the whole region. One of the fastest developing economical areas is tourism.
Rovaniemi forms a unique combination of town services and surrounding Lappish nature. The main attractions in Rovaniemi are the Arctic Circle, Santa Claus, Santa Claus Village, Santapark, Ounasvaara Sports and Skiing Centre, Arktikum and Ranua Wildlife Park.
Rovaniemi museums bring out the area’s richness in tradition. Pöykkölä Ethnographic Museum has quite a pleasant country atmosphere close to town. Lapland Forestry Museum is an outdoor museum presenting the life of a forest worker and a lumberjack. The exhibition of Rovaniemi Art Museum is part of Jenny and Antti Wihuri’s collection.
Rovaniemi’s most significant exhibition entity and museum is Arktikum. Arktikum’s special and one of a kind building with its glass corridor is a sight in itself. The building was designed by Danish architects Birch-Bonderup & Thorup-Waade and was opened December 6, 1992. Arktikum hosts exhibitions both of the Arctic Centre specialising in arctic peoples, nature and culture and of the Lapland Provincial Museum displaying the history of Rovaniemi and the Sami. The Guild of Finnish Travel Journalists awarded Arktikum in 1994 for being the best tourist attraction in Finland. The European Council awarded the Provincial Museum of Lapland for the display of Lappish culture. In 2007 Arktikum had approx. 80 000 visitors.
Tourism has grown strongly in Rovaniemi region in the nineties. Approximately 400 000 tourists visit Rovaniemi each year. The unique location of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle has attracted visitors from all over the world. In 2009 the amount of registered overnights in Rovaniemi region was about 450 000, of which well over 50 percent were foreign. Of the foreign tourists visiting Rovaniemi 15 percent were Russian followed by German, British, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Norwegian travellers.
The busiest tourist season is winter from November till April and the winter season counts for more than 60 percent of the total number of visitors. Economically the winter season is even more significant. The biggest attraction is still Santa Claus, but the growth of Christmas tourism is largely based on the Christmas programmes offered by the area’s activity services as well as the Christmas season events in Rovaniemi. Approximately 100 different media from more than 20 countries visited Rovaniemi region in 2009.
The economic importance of tourism has grown in Rovaniemi region. The direct income of tourism in 2008 was 170 million euros, of which 40 million euros during Christmas season. Tourism employed approx. 1 600 persons in 2008
The official dinner on wednesday is at restaurant Gaissa. The official "after conference" bar is right next door and in the centre of Rovaniemi: Zoomit! In Café Bar ZoomIt you’re in the centre of Rovaniemi city-life. In the evenings people living in Rovaniemi, tourists and students gather together to enjoy each others company while ZoomIt staff ensures that everyone is having a pleasant evening and is enjoying quality drinks.