Richard Turen
Richard Turen

When you are associated with a travel publication in any capacity, your mailbox is filled with story ideas from public relations firms and the occasional tourist board wanting you to do a piece about some specific portion of their product that they feel is underreported. I would never use a story idea from anyone in PR, and tourism board babble is easily ignored. So each morning I typically delete this stuff.

But one day last week I found an exception. It was from some folks trying to stimulate tourism to Finland. They know how to write a brief, to-the-point summary of why anyone should want to visit their country. I want to see if your interest in Finland is piqued as much as mine was when I reviewed this. It might be useful to those of our readers who are employed in the public relations arts.

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, can appear more than 200 nights each year. This is a reason, all on its own, to travel to Finland's Lapland for the ultimate Instagram experience.

Finland has more than 70,000 islands, many with lighthouses and outdoor recreation. And unlike Greenland, Trump is not trying to buy them.

There is a Finnish term, jokamiehenoikeus, that translates to "everyman's right." It means you can walk or hike virtually anywhere in the country. This is a tad controversial, as it puts the right of freedom to roam above property rights, but I suppose Finnish hikers are well-behaved.

The Finns have the highest coffee consumption in the world, thus more coffee cafes per person than any other country. And the really great thing is that not all of them are named Starbucks.

The Reader's Digest honesty test revealed that 11 out of 12 wallets deliberately "lost" in the streets of Helsinki were returned to their rightful owner.

That doesn't just mean that the finders didn't keep the wallets, they actually made the effort to contact the owners and have them sent back. And the money wasn't even missing. That leaves me wondering about who took that 12th wallet. Was it a tourist from the States?

The ski season runs from October to May, with winter slopes mostly lit and springtime sun shining in the evening. I try never to ski at night unless the sun is shining brightly, so I can be blinded by the brightness as I make my way down the bunny hill.

In addition to the most coffeehouses, Finland features the most saunas per capita of any destination on Earth. Ski-coffee-sauna. Sounds like a plan.

Finally, there is this: Santa Claus lives in the Arctic Circle. In Finland. You can visit him, along with all of the reindeer, at any time of the year just outside the town of Rovaniemi. He will speak to you and make inquiries as to your personal preferences when it comes to Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Rolex. Might be worth the airfare.

Part of what I like about this "reasons to visit Finland" summary is what it doesn't say. The Finns actually held back. They made no mention of their standard of living, their top scores in "happiest nations" studies or the fact that they manage to provide superior public services at a tax rate that is not dramatically different from our own. They could have mentioned all of that, but they didn't. Because, in addition to all its other attributes, Finland is a modest sort of place.


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