Report: Arctic 5 cities and COVID-19 pandemic - The effects of the Omicron variant to travelling
Summary of the report
As on a global level, the COVID-19 situation has also changed drastically in the Arctic 5 cities. The Omicron variant has multiplied the number of COVID-19 cases in the region. At the beginning of the year, the case numbers in all the cities were at an all-time high. Fortunately, the number of cases seems to have started to decrease in February 2022.
COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted widely in the Nordic countries. This together with the increased vaccination coverage have boosted peoples’ mobility especially inside the countries. This can be seen from the Google Community mobility data, which shows how visits and lengths of stay at different places have changed compared with the baseline. Mobility seems to have begun to recover towards the pre-pandemic levels in virtually all cities and all categories.
Lifted travel restrictions and the use of COVID-19 vaccination passports have boosted travelling, which is reflected in overnight stays in the Arctic 5 cities. After the record-breaking summer in 2021 for domestic tourism, overnight stays by foreign visitors in December 2021 were close to pre-pandemic figures. A year before, in December 2020, the numbers were only fractions of that. The increase was most notable in Lapland during the Christmas holidays. This strong increase in foreign tourism in Lapland was mainly driven by the growing amount of charter flights from European countries. Although overnight stays decreased in January-February, we can well assume that the number of both domestic and foreign tourists can rise to pre-pandemic levels in Spring 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been first and foremost a health crisis, but it has had a severe negative, asymmetric impact not only on individuals, but also on communities and regions. Arctic regions are no exception. This latest report broadens the analysis performed in our earlier reports.