Stay or go? Conflicting signals on domestic summer travel

Ministers and officials are giving mixed messages on whether it's okay to go to summer cottages or enjoy other domestic tourism this year.

File picture of summer cottage mökki / Credit: iStock

Should you go to summer cottage this weekend, or stay at home? Are you allowed to plan a domestic travel ‘staycation’ this summer or should you be limiting yourself to life within a short distance from the place you live?

Depending on which Finnish politicians and officials you ask, you’re going to get a different answer.

At a Thursday morning briefing Kirsi Varhila a senior civil servant at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said that she strongly recommended people don’t travel around the country this summer.

“At the moment, the government has strongly recommended that domestic tourism should not be practiced. This is something the government will have to look at as summer comes and tourism-related issues keep increasing” says Varhila.

“For the time being, the recommendation is that we do not travel at home in our free time either” she adds.

Varhila’s comments tie in with official government guidelines that all unnecessary travel, such a leisure travel, should continue to be avoided at home as well (the government already tells Finns not to travel abroad).

However this is at odds with different regional and city marketing authorities, who have already pivoted their tourism campaigns to focus on trying to attract domestic visitors. It’s also news to the Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) as he wants to encourage more domestic tourism.

“As the minister responsible for tourism, I think I will then encourage domestic tourism. Finland set in motion by tourism” he tweeted this week.

The Chief Medical Officer for Helsinki and Uusimaa Health District Asko Järvinen also said at the Thursday briefing that he didn’t think domestic tourism was a significant risk for spreading coronavirus this summer.

So what’s the definitive answer? Should you stay at home, or should you go to summer cottage and enjoy some domestic holiday travel this summer?

The Director General of Government Communications tells News Now Finland a final decision hasn’t been reached yet.

“At the moment the previous recommendation [to avoid domestic travel] is still valid” says Päivi Anttikoski.

“A new recommendation is being prepared. There are many things to consider” she adds.