While tourism is the main driving force of Rovaniemi’s economic growth, the city’s attractiveness is best exemplified by its place as a centre of commerce, says CEO of Lapland Chamber of Commerce Timo Rautajoki in an exclusive interview with the Daily Finland.
“Commerce and tourism go hand in hand, tourists also buy goods, when they visit Rovaniemi. When I get to the Rovaniemi’s downtown shopping centre after my workday, I always find it full of tourists”, Rautajoki says.
According to Rautajoki, the availability of a wide array of services and social amenities, as well as the good transport network, make Rovaniemi an attractive place to live and it has great potential to develop to an industrial hub. “The industrial sector has not been especially strong in Rovaniemi. However, Rovaniemi has started to industrialise intensely during the past 10 years.”
The city of Rovaniemi has supported this development by expanding and improving the industrial area at the south side of the city.
In the future, Rovaniemi can be seen as an attractive place to live for the employees of the potential Suhanko mine project.
“The Suhanko mine project would involve mining of palladium. If the project gets funding, it will create approximately 800 jobs, in addition of the subcontractors. Because of the short distance to the Lapland’s capital, these workers would most likely want to live in Rovaniemi,” Rautajoki adds.
According to the CEO of Lapland Chamber of Commerce, Rovaniemi and the northern Norwegian City of Tromsø are the two leading cities in terms of Arctic tourism, and it would benefit both cities to foster economic cooperation between them. There are no direct flights between Rovaniemi and Tromsø, which should be explored, says Rautajoki.
Rovaniemi needs more hotels and more scheduled flight connections, he says, adding: “The busy season starts in November in Lapland, when all the hotels are booked and it is not easy to organize events and meetings. All the flights are booked as well during this period, which will last till April.”
Tourism has been expanding in Lapland and Rautajoki believes the growth will continue. To be able to keep up with this growth, Lapland needs more skilled employees, he says. In short time span, this can be solved through attracting labour from other parts of the country such as Oulu, Rautajoki adds.
City of Rovaniemi- Daily Finland Report