Father Christmas files for bankruptcy: Fall in Russian tourists to Finland threatens to leave the company behind the Arctic Circle's Santa Claus Village without its star attraction
Santa has been forced to file for bankruptcy over a 200,000 Euro tax bill. Popular Lapland attraction has blamed a drop in tourists for poor sales
In a move that will break the hearts of children across the world, the office of Santa Claus has been forced to file for bankruptcy in Lapland over a 200,000 Euro (£142,880) unpaid tax bill. The popular attraction, which fulfils the dream of children and their families from all over the world to meet the jolly man in red, has blamed a drop in tourists for its flagging sales. Every year around 300,000 tourists of 100 different nationalities visit Santa's Office - which claims to be the official one - in Finnish Lapland.
But lately the attraction, owned by Dianordia, has been struggling to pull in its typical numbers thanks to a sharp drop in visitors from recession-hit Russia.
However, Managing Director Jarmo Kariniemis says he is not ready to give up. 'We will take care of it. We have already collected half of the sum,' Mr Kariniemi told AFP. Santa Claus Office has just a week to raise the rest of the cash to keep Santa on the job.
The Village and the other companies are not affected by the court's proceedings.
Mr Kariniemi said his company's financial difficulties were due to 'the turbulence in the world' resulting in a drop in the number of tourists visiting the region. 'First there were fewer tourists coming from Greece, then from Spain, Italy and Portugal, and eventually from Russia,' he explained, referring to the economic downturn in those countries. In January Finnish Border Guards reported a 33-percent drop from December 2013 to December 2014 in border crossings between Finland and its eastern neighbour Russia, which sends the most tourists to Finland, and has been affected by the fall of the ruble.
Despite fears that Father Christmas could soon be unemployed, the head of the Rovaniemi Regional Development Agency, Juha Seppala, said his organisation would make sure Santa always had a job there. 'There is no way the Village would be left without Santa Claus. The activities will continue in one way or another,' he told AFP.