It makes for a great click-bait
headline: Santa Claus Is Going Broke!
And it’s true that a major
attraction in Finland’s town of Rovaniemi, located close to the Arctic Circle,
risks becoming the latest victim of the European economic crisis.
Finland’s Santa Claus Office,
which received 300,000 visitors last year – many of them children hoping to
meet Santa and plead good behaviour -- faces bankruptcy as it struggles to
repay $290,000 of debt.
But before the kids start crying,
the Finnish tourist board would like to point out that Santa Claus Office is
just one of Rovaniemi’s tributes to the man in red. There are several Santa-themed
businesses in the town and they’re open for business. As is Santa Claus Office,
at least for now.
"Though there is uncertainty
regarding Dianordia, the specific company that runs the Santa Claus Office, the
Santa Claus Village (where Santa is actually based) is not under threat in any
way,” Visit Finland said in a statement.
But it’s clear. Even Santa has
been hit by the double blow of the European economic crisis coupled with the
Ukraine crisis. Falling numbers of visitors from Greece, Spain and Italy was
the first hit, now Russians are staying away.
The Santa Claus Office has less
than a week to come up with the money and an online campaign has been launched
to keep it afloat. The page has been deluged by offers of support.
In an accompanying video, Santa
Claus acknowledges his ‘office’ has “faced some trouble recently”, but says he
is confident a solution will be found.
A message on the company’s website
reads: “Santa is here, every day, like he has been for the last two decades,
meeting friends and visitors from all around the world. We are a small family
company, and times are not easy in global economy for us either, but we keep
working for the spirit of Christmas.”