If you’re looking for last minute accommodation in Jyväskylä this week, chances are you’ll be out of luck.
An estimated 260,000 people will descend on the Central Finland city and surrounding towns for the 69th iteration of Rally Finland, making it the biggest annual sporting event in the country.
For local businesses, and for city residents, the high octane event brings opportunities beyond the traditional scope of motor sports.
“Of course it brings us many things, it’s economically sound for us because practically all our hotels are full, the restaurants are the same and that’s just the financial part of it. And of course it’s good for the city’s image” says Anne Sandelin, Director of Business Development for Jyväskylä.
“It’s not unusual for the hotels to be booked, but this is definitely the biggest event of the year. And since the capacity for hotel accommodation is limited many citizens of Jyväskylä rent their homes to the visitors. We think it’s a sign of the hospitality here” Sandelin explains.
Thousand Lakes Rally route
Rally Finland brings the world’s top drivers from the FIA World Rally Championship circuit to the lakes and forests of Central Finland.
In stages held on closed roads, drivers and their co-drivers race to clock the fastest times, with a chance to practice in advance at slower speeds so they know exactly where every twist and turn and bump in the route will come.
This year’s rally circuit takes racers around the world from Australia to South America; and around Europe.
The Jyväskylä stop sees the drivers tackle forest roads and takes them into the city as well where spectators can get up close to the action.
VIP services for race spectators
With so many tourists descending on the region, the rally has evolved into a major economic engine for small businesses.
Former rally driver Aki Teiskonen has cornered the market in the VIP forest rally experience, and started his business more than a decade ago as he eased out of the race driving circuit.
Corporate clients pay hundreds of euros to be shuttled by helicopter, boat or luxury bus to a location where they can watch the rally stages in comfort.
“We are in the place where people can see the proper Thousand Lakes rally. We are next to the lake, on the green grass field, but still we have white table cloths, porcelain plates, proper knives and forks and as well the very tasty food, and of course some beer and wine” he explains.
Teiskonen tells News Now Finland that 99% of his clients are Finns, with tickets paid for by corporations and sponsors.
Mixing business with rally driving
Taking advantage of the spotlight, the city of Jyväskylä is running a business promotion event during rally week for the fourth year, partnering with the European Business Angel Network to hold seminars for an expected 300 visitors.
“We just started with a small group, a few international investors and business angels, and coached and trained a few of our startups and growth companies” says Anne Sandelin.
“When you combine the rally with the business it’s easier to bring international people and get the chance to show off our university and what kind of startups we have here” she tells News Now Finland.
Neste Rally Finland takes place on 1st, 2nd and 3rd August.