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Lapland's jobless huskies travelling to the south for work

The collapse of the tourism industry in Lapland has meant thousands of sledding dogs are out of work.

Husky notkuu aidalla Heinolan Huskypuistossa.
There are usually an estimated 5,000-7,000 sled dogs in Lapland during the winter season. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

The pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard in northern Finland, and the collapse in Lapland in particular has meant thousands of sled dogs have been out of work for the past year.

According to a survey by the Finnish Lapland Tourist Board (LME), more than 60 percent of Christmas season reservations for trips to the region were cancelled last year.

There are usually an estimated 5,000–7,000 sled dogs in Lapland during the winter season. Some holiday operators have publicly said that if the survival of their companies is at stake, and they can no longer afford to keep their dogs, and they may have to be put down.

Among those to feel the effects of the economic downturn and coronavirus restrictions are 100 huskies from Husky Park, located in Rovaniemi, Lapland.

Mari Nenonen, a dog kennel entrepreneur from Kotka had the idea to offer her kennel facilities to be used free of charge by a struggling husky safari company. As a result, 30 Siberian Huskies will now travel from the Arctic Circle to the city of Kotka on the southern coast of Finland.

The dog kennel owner has been taken aback by the level of interest for husky sled rides in the south of the country. The phone lines have not stopped ringing, and the kennel's booking system has been flooded with reservations, she said.

"The demand has been amazing. Within a day, we had over 100 reservations," said Nenonen.

The dogs will arrive in Kotka in mid-February - which coincides with the winter holidays - and they are expected to be busy after a long, idle winter.

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