Will climate change kill Santa Claus? (Eng)

Climate Change is threatening Tourism business in Lapland!

Local people are worried in northern part of Finland because of the phenomenon we actually all consider sad and worring; lack of snow and shorter winter season. And as we all know they seem to be related to the climate change.

When reading posts and articles about this problem I sometimes get a bit irritated and I admit I  make the same mistakes by myself; we talk about the problem, we ask others to observe our environment and we ask what kind of future are we leaving to our children.

It´s actually about doing something, not just talking

So – I would now like to ask everybody, including myself to do somethnig, and not just talking and observing. There is much to do and we can start with small things in our everyday life; save energy and water, buy local food and products, don´t use disposable and individually packed products, change your electricity supplier to the one offering alternative energy source.

Learn to make choices which cause less air pollution and greenhouse gas and be a good example for your children. In Tourism industry we should develop more alternative services for our visitors and let them feel welcome to enjoy the special spirit of Lapland and Finland even without snow.

I enjoy the cross-country skiing in Finland when having snow – even in southern part of Finland

It´s about trying to make right decisons

Now the solution seem to be to make tourists happy in any cost; dozens if not hundreds of cannons all over Lapland are ”making” snow and snow has been stored from earlier year for the use of this year.

That´s not ecologically very sustainable way of developing tourism, isn´t it? But it´s understandable. Those who are working in tourism business are living very stressful weeks just before Christmas; the climate has been very varying during the last years; after snowing there can be rains to come and snow desappears again.

Tourists are sending messages and writing in social media wondering if it is really worth of travelling to Finland if snow is not guaranteed.

Climate change is true – and has been taken seriously woldwide?

The whole world is preparing to a big event in 2015; the climate agreement will be signed by 192 countries in Paris. United Nations has put it´s goal to stop global warming to two degrees Celcius. But according to the resent studies the climate is expected to warm up to five degrees Celcius by the end of this century.

The international climate agreement is going to be signed by 192 countries in Paris 2015.

The climate agreement is expected to inlude  a promise signed by European countries, that greenhouse gas emmisions are going to be reduced to half by 2030 and there is a promise to have carbon neutral society ( at least some of the coutries…)  by 2050. And much is expected of the United States and China.

It´s my problem, it´s your problem, it´s tourist´s problem it´s global problem!

I know many Finns who would be happy to have mild winters and less snow. But it´s not so simple; climate change is a global problem and it´s causing different problems in different parts of the world.

Melting of glaciers, for example, cause changes in sea level and temperature which can cause changes in ocean currents – and the changes can be noticed far away. What has been approved is that climate change exists and it´s affecting our life. According to the newest IPPC- report the warming is going to be strongiest in north, even eight degrees Celcius above the Arctic Circle.

Valparaiso - daños de terremoto.

Valparaiso, Chile 2010. I was in Chile and saw the damages when one of the strongiest earthquakes of the world´s history happened there .

Climate change is a global, common problem, and we can not close our eyes of it. Unfortunately it doesn’t always go quite according to fair play either.  Sea level rise and extreme weather phenomena often cause the most serious problems for those low-income countries, which have not, due to poverty,  ever been major greenhouse gas emitters. 

Will climate change kill Santa Claus

I have read a really nice article written by C.Michael Hall. He is very well known among the academic students and researches in Tourism field  in Finland. He is also often seen lecturer in Lapland and Eastern Finland University. So we can trust he knows quite a lot about Finland and our Tourism Industry.

C.Michael Hall has asked whether the worldwide spreading message of  Santa Claus worring about the climate change would make people to react.  Could Santa Claus  who is now trying in every way to maintain the image created by the snow of winter idyll, to participate in the fight against climate change? He could openly tell that his home and life  in winter idyll is threatened. ( Matkailututkimuksen Seuran julkaisu 2/2014. Hall, C. M. 2014,Climate change and high-latitude Christmas place branding. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism.)

 Or could Santa Claus be ambassador of goodwill?

I find it great idea – of course!!! Santa claus could be the ambassador of goodwill and help Finnish Lapland and whole Finland towards even more responsible way of developing  the Tourism industry. 

Santa Claus good tell the unpleasant truth and bring out other kind of wonderland even without snow. There are plenty of stories to tell; even the stories about the elves, and not only those helping Santa but also those known in epic stories. He would be the one to represent Finland and climate change globally!


I have a dream; I would like to see Finland as the first carbon neutral tourist destination in the world! It would really get us advantage and possibility to differ from the neighbor countries. At least we have worldwide  valued  knowledge in Cleantech- industry and plenty of forests to help in that target!

Is Finland a ”No, no” -country? At least Santa Claus says YES.


I have been thinking about the discourse hold by John Swarbrooke couple of months ago in Jyväskylä, in central Finland. John Swarbrooke´s book Sustainable Tourism Management is one of the few books I had time to read from the beginning to end during my studies in ”Finnish University Network for Tourism studies” in early 2000´s. As I have special interest in Sustainable and Responsible Tourism in my academic studies I was so happy to meet mr. Swarbrooke.

tammi tallinna pieni mökki ja saari

So I did have the oportunity to meet him, but he didn´t say a word about Sustainable Tourism. He was talking about changes in Global Tourism business which was pretty interesting too.

He also talked about customer service in general and in particular in Finland. He has visited Finland so many times that he is quite experienced tourist in Finland. He shared his experiencies with us; he said we have  no, no – culture in Finnish customer service.


One example Mr. Swarbrooke gave us was about getting the shirt ironed at the hotel. He has asked in many hotels if he could get his shirt ironed; not for free but paying for that service. And he has always got the same answer; no – we don´t have a service like that. Of course he could have sent the shirt to laundry but it had taken more time and would have been useless as the shirt was clean.

Sounds familiar – if we ask something out of the normal service the answer is very often NO.  Well, I have to say, it´s not only in Finland, I have heard that word in some other countries as well.


The brand of Finland says it is the country of problem-solving. Tourists want the problems to be solved and have fun! It´s easier to convince  tourists that the problems are solved if we start with YES instead of NO.  Sometimes we really can´t solve the problem, but at least we can say yes, we do our best. Let´s be active in this process! In Finland we should be very good at starting with YES.

In Jyväskylä we had the right dress code; at least matching the chair.

In Jyväskylä we had the right dress code with Reija Sandelin ( Haaga-Helia) ; at least matching the chair.


We went with my colleagues to have a lunch in a restaurant operated by students. It was five minutes before the closing time ( time till when one can enter to have the lunch) and the students were already collecting food away. So I asked if we still could have the lunch. The students didn´t say anything but were looking around a bit confused.

So the teacher came and told us that  ”NO,  you can´t”  because we have started to take everything away”. Now I was confused but accepted the answer. When going out of the restaurant I said to my colleagues that it´s a pity that written principles and reality don´t meet;  that school (as almost all schools in Finland) declairs to be proud of the sustainable development programme –  but they prefer throw the food away instead of selling it to us.

The teacher heard my comment, asked us to come back and told the students to serve the lunch. She acted in correct way; she admitted in front of the students  that she was wrong and then gave them a good example how to solve the problem and be kind to customers.

Next step could be that the students (future professionals)  dare to make the decisions by themselves, without any doubt, by a smile on the face.

I have learnt that we shouldn´t so easily accept ”NO” – answers but try to negotiate in a positive way. It probably helps – maybe not always but in many cases.


I had a very good friend of mine from Sweden visiting us with her 8 year old son. We had great time with kids enjoying the snow and walking in forest. As well we had a nice stop in a playground which has three different parts; one for very small children, one for those of school age and the third one for kids from +12 years where we stopped. It was the most normal thing for us to play with kids and not just stand and look at them playing – we were having fun together!

Sometimes No-No -culture spoils a good moment in everyday life.

Sometimes No-No -culture spoils a good moment in everyday life. Fun for kids can be fun for adults.

But then one lady started to shout us from the dog park next to the playground. She said ”hey – no, no.. you are not allowed to use it, it´s only for kids.”  I tried to tell her that well.. I´m quite sure that the Finnish quality ensures that the park can be used by adults as well ( equipment made by Lappset) and there might be children who weight more than us…. but NO – she told us not to be there.

We didn´t want to irritate the lady and  went to play to a forest nearby. The kids didn´t care and me either. But afterwards I went to the website of Lappset;  fortunately they have been thinking of adults; they seem to  understand that there are plenty of adults who want to join the joy of playing with the kids. It doesn´t make sense to have playgrounds where adults stay passive!


During my empirical research and in my everyday life I hear YES as well, of course!  I would say Customer Service is a huge potential when making Finland known as attractive tourist destination and we are good in many senses.  By the way, Mr Swarbrooke also asked us to be proud of our odd way of being and not to apologize the originality.

I hope Finland is soon known as a country of YES – YES – attitude. At least there is one who said Yes to me! I wrote an article about climate change and Santa Claus: Will climate change kill Santa Claus. Santa Claus had read it – or the representative of his did and then they contacted me.

It took only one week for Santa Claus to say YES. Santa Claus said YES to the idea of being a goodwill ambassador when talking about climate change. He also told that he already has started to act in this theme.

Hopefully we find the way to collaborate! The Finnish Fair Tourism Association is interested in  to be involved. Would you like to join us as well?

I  keep you informed!

I´ll write soon about Finnish Tourism Trade hold in Helsinki in January 2015.