Finnish tourism industry northern lights video sparks alarm in Norway
People working at the Finnish Tourist Board (MEK) were somewhat surprised recently at the strong reactions from Norway over MEK’s video showing the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights.
Concerns were expressed in the Norwegian media that the country would have lost its status as the right place to see the aurora after the Finnish video reached a massive audience on YouTube.
“The reaction suggests alarm and emotion”, says Mervi Holmén, head of marketing at the Finnish Tourist Board.
Holmén promises that there will be more marketing of the northern lights and of Finnish nature in general, both on video, and through traditional means. France and Britain are to be key targets of the marketing.
The Norwegians are right about their tourist draw in the sense that the northern lights are visible more frequently in the north of Norway than on the Finnish side.
The lights are seen most frequently in a narrow zone that runs along the Norwegian coast, says Heikki Nevanlinna, head of research at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Statistics indicate that the lights can be seen most frequently on cloudless nights in the Tromsø area.
However, the difference between Norway’s Tromsø and Kilpisjärvi in Finnish Lapland is not that great. On the Finnish side the lights can be seen on three out of four cloudless nights, while in Tromsø the figure rises to between 80 and 90 per cent of nights.
At the latitude of Oulu, the Aurora Borealis can be seen on about half of nights, and in Southern Finland, they can be seen on one in ten or one in twenty cloudless nights.
So how else can Finland compete with Norway in attracting tourists?
Professionals in the business do not want to provoke any confrontations, even though there is competition.
The northern lights have been a major focus of marketing Norway to tourists for the past two years.
Another major draw is the Hurtigruten passenger shipping route along the Norwegian coast, in which the ship goes along the coast from one fjord to another, with passengers getting off and on at the various ports of call.
“The thousands of lakes in our waterways, our archipelagos and magnificent coastal areas could be promoted more than has been the case so far”, Holmén says.
Perhaps the midnight sun could also be hijacked from the Norwegians.
British travel writer Annie Caulfield did some bear watching during a weekend in Kainuu, and wrote about the magic nights in The Guardian.
Then again, the Norwegians could of course fight back with the ultimate weapon of mass distraction - taking S*n*a C*a*s hostage.
It could get ugly.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Northern lights dancing again across the sky (8.3.2011)
Northern Lights and glass igloos attract honeymoon couple from Singapore to Lapland (10.1.2006)
Finnish Tourist Board
Why Finland´s forests are Moomin marvellous (The Guardian - 2.9.2011)