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Russian tourists eager to book holidays in Finland despite border closure

Hotels report many Russians trying to book rooms for late July though no decision has been made on reopening the border.

Holiday Club Saimaan hotellihuoneistoja.
Spa hotels such as this one in Lappeenranta are popular with Russian tourists. Image: Yle

Hotels in eastern Finland say there has been an upsurge in attempted bookings by Russian tourists for late July, though there is no word yet as to when the border will reopen.

"Some Russians seem to think that the Finnish-Russian border will reopen on 15 July," says Anne Kaarnijärvi, director of the Holiday Club Saimaa hotel.

The hotel's sales staff has corrected the misinformation and declined to take any new reservations from Russian customers. They have been advised to wait until coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted.

That is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the pandemic situation is much worse in Russia than Finland, where few new cases have been found in recent weeks despite stepped-up testing.

Meanwhile the Imatra Spa Resort reports that some Russian tourists who made bookings for June and July before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic have been rescheduling them for August and September.

No decision on opening external Schengen border

Restrictions on travel over the Finnish-Russian border are scheduled to remain in effect until at least 14 July. No decisions have yet been made on extending or ending the restrictions.

Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo told Yle last week that tourism to and from Russia will be among the last sectors to be allowed to reopen.

The frontier between the two countries is also an external border of the Schengen Area. No decision has been made about reopening the 26-nation passport-free zone to tourism, either.

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