Britain's largest travel agency TUI announced this week that it would cancel all package tours from Britain and Ireland to Lapland between November and December.
According to daily Helsingin Sanomat, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) has blamed this on Finland’s delay in finalising a new travel policy that will dictate who can visit the country and on what conditions,
"The government’s policy on tourism rules has been delayed. The continued delay was probably the straw that broke the camel's back for TUI," Lintilä said.
A new draft bill has proposed that countries with at least twice as many Covid-19 infections as Finland be classified as high-risk countries — travellers from countries below the threshold can enter Finland freely, HS said.
Lintilä said this is a proposal from officials at the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health (MSAH) and not one jointly agreed by the cabinet. He added the government should continue discussing travel restrictions, even though the draft is currently being circulated for comments.
"We can’t just wait for the two-week commenting period to expire and the ministry to make further changes. We will probably have a lot to do before reaching political agreement," Lintilä said.
However Lintilä added that he does not want to blame individuals and said the most important thing is to get clear guidance on tourism ahead of the spring season. HS quoted him as saying "no one can afford to sit on the bill now".
Coronavirus delays retirement decisions
Far fewer pension applications were processed in October this year than at the same time a year ago, according to the latest statistics from the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The number was 35 per cent lower, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reported.
Pension fund company Elo said it was surprised when it did not receive the expected number of pension applications in October.
"We expected more applications to come in when those born in January 1957 had the opportunity to retire on 1 November 2020," Elo's customer service manager Sofia Antturi said in a press release.
Financial circumstances are forcing workers to postpone retirement, according to an Elo survey conducted in November.
For many, the coronavirus situation has influenced their decisions. According to IS, some respondents said their workload increased during the period — for instance, there has been an increase in gig work in the healthcare sector.
Other workers have calculated that they would be better off resorting to unemployment benefits rather than relying on their pensions.
Some respondents found it wiser to delay their retirement plans considering they cannot pursue travel and other hobbies due to the coronavirus restrictions, IS said.
Saimaa ringed seal habitats get Unesco nomination
Finland intends to nominate the Saimaa ringed seal habitats in the Lake Saimaa archipelago to be included on Unesco's list of World Heritage sites, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen (Green) announced on Wednesday.
The proposed site is part of Lake Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland.
"The protection of Saimaa ringed seal has become a symbol of nature conservation in Finland, and it requires constant effort," Mikkonen said in a press release.
The ringed seal population was just 130 to 160 at its lowest, but has now recovered to about 400. However, climate change is a serious threat to the seals, the release said.
At the moment there are a total of 1,121 sites on the Unesco World Heritage list, of which 213 represent natural heritage.
Finland has seven World Heritage sites on the list, six of which represent cultural heritage locations and one, the Kvarken Archipelago, is a natural heritage site.