No cuddling with Santa, but tourists are coming back to Lapland

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Tourists are returning to Finnish Lapland, after the coronavirus pandemic all but canceled last year’s winter travel season to the party destination.

There are currently no cuddles with Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Village amusement park in Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland.

Visitors are separated from Santa Claus by a plexiglass screen shaped like a gingerbread cookie.

“A lot of people come here, but people have face masks on right now, they keep their distance, and we have this plexiglass here because we want to be safe here, but otherwise it’s quite the same.” , said Santa Claus.

Site operators in Rovaniemi say visitors have returned in numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels.

Tourists from elsewhere in Finland and abroad come to revel in the festive spirit of Santa Claus Village, take a reindeer sleigh or husky ride and – if they’re lucky – catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. .

“Very cold, for a Spaniard it’s very, very cold, you know?” laughed Spanish tourist Manuel Perez, trembling in temperatures of minus 14 degrees Celsius.

“It’s amazing to be here, like my hands are officially frozen, I can’t feel a thing,” said Gayathri Selvanathan, a tourist from Chennai, India.

“I can’t move my mouth,” she added.

The park post office says it receives around half a million letters and wish lists each year.

During peak hours as Christmas approaches, he receives more than 30,000 letters a day. Most mail comes from Finland, Poland, China, Japan, UK and Italy.

Before setting off on his sleigh, Santa Claus shared his festive message with people around the world.

“I have heard some very disturbing news about the well-being and adjustment of children around the world. So please be together, do something together and have fun. And let’s make it (a) very merry Christmas, ”he said.

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