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Santa's hometown struggles to make ends meet  Mar 24, 2009

Helsinki - Finland's recession-hit government said on Tuesday it had sold its stake in Santapark, a Christmas theme park in the northern city of Rovaniemi, widely considered the home of Father Christmas.

Around 500 000 tourists visit the city of Rovaniemi near the Arctic circle every year to see Santa Claus and his wintry wonderland theme park, although numbers dipped last year and are expected to fall further this year.

"The value of the deal is not disclosed, because the state did not wish to publish it," Ilkka Laenkinen, managing director at local tourism company Santa's Holding which bought the government's 32-percent stake, said.

The government did not say why it was selling its stake, although a spokesperson told the STT news agency the park, which has sometimes struggled to make ends meet since it opened just over a decade ago, would be in better hands under private ownership.

Santa's Holding now owns nearly 56 percent of shares after the city of Rovaniemi and travel company Lapin Matkailu also decided to sell their stakes. The remainder of the shares are held by diverse small owners.

Laenkinen said Santa's Holding was determined to invest in the park and would increase marketing to boost sales and visibility despite the slump.

"In the long term we want to give more experiences to visitors," he said.

Santa's hometown struggles to make ends meet
Rovaniemi / Image via

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