On Wednesday, a district court declared the company that runs it, Dianordia, bankrupt due to an outstanding tax debt of 206,000 euros, reports local daily Lapin Kansa. In May, the Finnish Tax Administration had threatened the company with the move unless it paid up. With no payment forthcoming, tax officials launched the bankruptcy process on 31 July.
CEO Jorma Kariniemi tells Yle he expects the decision to be overturned, and insists that the debt situation can be settled with tax authorities. The firm has until next Thursday to pay the debt or reach an agreement before winding-down proceedings move ahead.
Santa Claus Office is the oldest of three Rovaniemi companies offering tourists a chance to meet and pose for a photo with the personification of Christmas – for a fee. It has long been open year-round while the other two – Santa Park, located in a cave, and the newest one, Santa's Holiday Village – are only open seasonally.
Last year Santa Claus Office had a turnover of nearly two million euros and about 20 employees.
Sanna Kärkkäinen, the head of Rovaniemi Tourism and Marketing Ltd, expressed surprise at the decision.
“Sad news, but this kind of thing happens in business. You just have to get used to it. This is just one of the companies that provides a backdrop for Santa Claus’s presence,” she told Yle on Thursday, adding that “Rovaniemi is still Santa Claus’s town.”
The tourism boss declined to speculate on whether there has been too much competition in the local Christmas-themed tourism business. Finnish Lapland has suffered a slump in Russian tourists in particular in recent years.