The Russian ruble collapse is tough for retail trade in Imatra and Lappeenranta.
Now a sharp reduction in Russian shopping tourists is expected the coming months.
“The Russian crisis hit us like a bolt from heaven,” says Trade Association president Liisa Marsio to Kauppalehti.
Businesses in South Karelia has been taken by surprise by the 20-percent decline of Russian tourists during this autumn. In many cities stores, restaurants and hotels are almost entirely dependent on Russian tourists whose spending power have been greatly weakened the ruble’s decline.
New Year and Epiphany is traditionally a peak season for Russian tourism and have had increases in the number of visitors for several years.
But now, the forecast for January goes further down, from seven percent reduction to tenths of percent.
Previously, shopping tourists visited Finland several times a month, but it has thinned out now according to Pasi Nurkka, CEO of research firm TAK.
At the same time the closiness to S.t Petersburg gives some hope.
“The people of S:t Petersburg spend their holidays anywhere in Finland,” says Pasi Nurkka.