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Finavia fumbles foreign flyer figures – tourists in Lapland counted as domestic travellers

Airport operator Finavia maintains passenger stats that may not accurately describe how many foreign tourists visit remote regions such as Lapland.

Finnairin kone laskeutumassa Ivalon kentälle.
How many international passengers are on this plane? Finavia doesn't know. Image: Finavia

Aviation authority Finavia's passenger statistics do not accurately reflect the nationalities of tourists who visit Lapland from abroad. Registering the nationalities of travellers is problematic for the company.

Most international airline passengers visiting Lapland are routed there through the main Helsinki-Vanaa Airport. Finavia, however, counts all passengers on Helsinki-Rovaniemi flights as "domestic travelers" whether or not that is that case on any given flight.

Only passengers arriving at Rovaniemi in Lapland on direct charter flights from foreign airports are counted as international. Therefore figures from last year that say 123,881 international and 455,589 domestic flyers arrived at Rovaniemi cannot be trusted.

Travel agents aware of snag

CEO Sanna Kärkkäinen from tourism firm Visit Rovaniemi is direct in saying that Finavia is actively distorting travel figures by counting layover passengers as domestic travelers.

"The travel industry needs hard data in order to develop and for their investments to pay off," Kärkkäinen says.

The problem has apparently been a common subject among travel agents for years.

"We get the challenge, and other stats from Finavia make it to us fair and square," Kärkkäinen says.

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