International News from World: In Finland’s remote Lapland region, the Santa Claus Village amusement park is a snowy wonderland of reindeer rides, ice castles, snowmobiles and igloo hotels where Christmas holds sway 365 days a year.
At its center, a wooden, fairytale-Esque cabin houses Santa’s grotto — since the 1980s, tourism chiefs have set out to market the main town, Rovaniemi, as the world’s official home of Santa Claus.
More visitors are now coming to experience winter in the Arctic than ever before.
But Lapland is also the homeland of the indigenous reindeer-herding Sami people, who protest that some in the tourism industry spread offensive stereotypes about Sami people and seek to profit from their ancient culture.
“Almost every day there are people coming to the Sami area asking ‘Where can I see the shamans, where are the Sami witches?'” Tiina Sanila-Aikio, president of Finland’s Sami Parliament.
“It’s only a picture that the tourism industry has created and developed,” she says.
Once known by the now obsolete term “Lapps”, the Sami are spread out across the northern parts of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
Sami representatives accuse some tourism providers of pretending to be Sami when they are not, or selling products and tourist attractions portraying Sami people as magical and primitive.