Santa Claus Faces Bankruptcy – Helpers Are on the Way

Santa Claus. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Santa Claus visiting Helsinki from Rovaniemi in 2013. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

How do you know that Finland is in depression? Santa Claus files for bankruptcy. This could easily be classified as a limping joke (puujalkavitsi) during a night at the bar stool, but unfortunately it’s news from the real world.

The company running Santa Claus’s office in Rovaniemi, Dianordia Oy, is on the verge of bankruptcy because of a tax debt worth 206,000 euros. The Finnish tax office decided to declare the company bankrupt, and the bankruptcy will come effective on Thursday August 27. That is, unless the debt is paid.

The Santa Claus Village attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly to Rovaniemi. In 2011, a new record was made when Santa Claus was visited by over 330,000 guests. Yearly, Santa Claus attracts 50,000 visitors from Asia alone.

So, how can a tourist magnet and the joy of children be in such a tight spot financially?

The cold economic finger points at Russia, which is battling its own depression. According to Jarmo Kariniemi, CEO of Dianordia Oy, the main reason for the problems is the decreasing amount of tourists from abroad. The problems of Russia and the weak economic situation in the southern Europe have taken its toll on the number of visitors.

“The problems of the world reflect on our business,” Kariniemi said.

But Santa is not alone in his battle against the tax bear.

The mayor of Rovaniemi, Esko Lotvonen, is one of Santa’s helpers.

“We have donated 26,000 euros yearly to the company maintaining the Santa Claus Village,” Lotvanen said.

According to Lotvanen, the sum serves as a guarantee that Santa is available for children year around. The city is planning to keep its promise.

“If the company can’t survive it’s debt, we are going to cooperate with other companies,” Lotvanen said.

There is also a crowdsourcing campaign started by two Finns called Save Santa Claus Bail out fund, where one can donate to keep Santa in business.

Santa attracts tourists to Rovaniemi from the middle of June to the middle of August, and from the autumn foliage to the end of November and all the way to Easter.

And despite the financial pressures, Santa has decided to stay in the village and receive children and tourists as usual.

“Rovaniemi is my hometown, and will be in the future. Christmas will come this year, too, and I hope to see as many visitors from all over the world as in previous years – and even more!” said Santa Claus.

 

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