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Few Finns cancel ski trips despite THL warning

Lapland ski resorts report only a few cancellations after THL advised people not to travel. 

February is ski holiday season in southern Finland. Image: Annu Passoja / Yle

Southern Finland's ski holiday makers are packing their bags and heading to Lapland despite recommendations from both the THL health agency and the Lapland hospital district for people in Uusimaa to stay put.

Officials from THL were called in to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Friday to discuss the comments, which the government felt could confuse public health messaging.

It appears to have had little effect, however. Finland enters the winter ski holiday season from Monday, with schools in the Helsinki region out for the holidays and rolling one-week vacations in different regions over the following three weeks.

According to Visit Levi sales boss Katja Rauhala, only around a dozen cottage reservations were cancelled after the THL recommendation.

At the same time, new bookings were also made for next week.

Pyhä-Luosto Matkailu Oy said that no bookings had been cancelled for next week. Managing Director Päivi Hannula said that a few people had called to ask about the epidemic situation in Lapland, but nobody had cancelled.

No refunds

Cottage bookings for the ski holiday weeks are not generally eligible for refunds.

"You can't just change the booking at the last minute if you feel like it, but if the authorities banned travel to the region then bookings could be changed," said Hannula.

That's what happened last spring when non-essential travel from the Uusimaa region was banned.

At Levi and Ylläs 28 days' notice is generally required to get a refund. A recommendation on its own is not enough to bend those rules.

Travel insurance policies will generally not offer money back either, in a situation like this. Compensation would probably not be granted even if the authorities introduced travel restrictions.

Still room in hotels

Destination Lapland and Lomarengas offer around 750 cottages in the Ylläs area, and report no cancellations. Visit Ylläs Managing Director Janne-Juhani Haarma said that people booking cottages have been keen to know the conditions for cancellations, so people generally should be aware of their rights.

In terms of cottage bookings, domestic demand has already made up for the shortfall in visitors from overseas in Levi at least.

Hotels have more spare capacity, and more difficulties in providing physical distance between holidaymakers.

The Lapland Hotels chain says bookings are around half normal levels in Ylläs and Levi for next week, which is traditionally one of the busiest of the year.

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