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Business lobby calls for government action to save tourism industry

Thousands of tourism jobs are at risk if the government does not act quickly, the federation says.

Matkailijoita menossa kellumaan Perämereen.
Business owners want to see the creation of a travel bubble which would allow tourists to visit areas such as Finnish Lapland. Image: Riikka Rautiainen / Yle

The Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Suomen Yrittäjät), which represents the country's small business owners, has called on the government to make quick decisions in order to save the tourism industry in Lapland and other regions.

Federation CEO Mikael Pentikäinen said that the situation is now very serious, with hundreds of companies and potentially thousands of jobs at risk. In Lapland, for example, the largest tourism group in the region has recently announced the beginning of extensive cooperation talks that could put up to 2,000 jobs at risk.

"The government must quickly - preferably today - draw up guidelines that will enable tourism activities. If the winter season is cancelled for tourism, it will hit the regional economy extensively in many provinces," Pentikäinen wrote in a press release on Thursday.

The business lobby believes that safe travel can be guaranteed through the creation of 'travel bubbles' or 'travel corridors', which would allow tourists to come to Finland from high-risk countries without having to self-isolate for two weeks on arrival.

This initiative would require that passengers arriving into Finland are mass-tested at airports, wear protective equipment, and are kept in their own groups, avoiding contact with locals or others.

"There are a lot of families on charter flights who stay together and are easy to guide. The doctors leading Lapland's coronavirus control strategy also consider group tourism possible," chair of Lapland Entrepreneurs Pirkka Salo told Yle.

Government decision expected next week

The issue has also been discussed by the government in recent days, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) telling reporters outside the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Thursday morning that a decision will be made next week on how to facilitate tourism during the upcoming autumn and winter seasons.

"At the moment, of course, reservations are being made, but we have to find a way to facilitate tourism while ensuring safety. After all, there is that big question of the Christmas season, and we are trying to answer that," Marin said. She added the intention is that a new type of healthy travel model would be in place as early as October.

"This would ensure healthy and safe travel and at the same time alleviate the current situation for many tourism entrepreneurs and, more generally, people who also need to move across national borders," Marin said.

Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP) announced on Wednesday that his ministry is urgently preparing an amendment to the law, which would require that each tourist entering Finland must have a negative coronavirus test result.

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