The German National Tourist Board is adding to the ‘Christmas sparkle’ inspiring virtual trips to Germany, while Washington DC is offering free online winter events and markets, and far in the North in the Finnish Lapland, the plan is to make Santa Claus village a carbon-neutral tourist destination over the next five years!
Christmas sparkle in Germany
In its latest digital campaign, the German National Tourist Board is presenting evocative Christmas themes from Destination Germany to international visitors during lockdown. Typical German traditions and winter activities in the great outdoors are showcased in ‘Christmas sparkle’, the German National Tourist Board’s latest campaign, which invites visitors to take virtual trips to Germany in the run-up to Christmas. Using the hashtag #GermanyXmas, the GNTB is offering travellers inspiration in the shape of stories and images relating to customs, traditions and festive food and drink.
Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the GNTB, says: “We are deliberately focusing on dialogue and interaction in our communication strategy, even during the coronavirus crisis. In the past, the festive season with its more than 3,000 Christmas markets and numerous culinary and cultural events has been a big draw for travellers. In the months of November and December alone, international visitors (excluding business travellers) have made over 9.6 million overnight stays and spent almost €1.4 billion, providing a considerable boost to the hotel industry and retailers in many towns and cities. During lockdown, we are communicating not only empathy in view of this unprecedented situation but also inspiration. Our aim is to strengthen brand loyalty with the clear objective of welcoming many visitors back to Germany next year.”
Discover Wintertime and holiday magic in Washington, DC
There’s nothing more beautiful than Washington, DC in winter. The nation’s capital is filled with free winter activities and gorgeous holiday displays, serving as a great destination to celebrate any winter holiday. From festive virtual events to holiday markets, Washington, DC features plenty of virtual activities that are sure to inspire winter whimsy.
Admire the National Christmas Tree
This year, the National Christmas Tree Lighting will take place online, with holiday performances accompanying the ceremony. The site can be visited for free from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily throughout the holiday season; the tree itself is lit from 4:30-10 p.m. each day. The National Christmas Tree is DC’s claim to fame during the holidays, and for good reason. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it’s surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories.
10 a.m. – 10 p.m., tree lit from 4:30-10 p.m. |
Gaze at the majestic U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
Each year, a tree from a National Forest in the U.S. is brought to the Capitol, where it resides on the West Lawn throughout the season. This year’s tree comes from Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests in Colorado. The tree will be set aglow in early December.
Take in the holiday grandeur of the Downtown Holiday Market
This free-to-frequent downtown bazaar has expanded its space this year to account for social distancing. Centrally located in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, the beloved market stretches across two blocks of F Street between 7th and 9th streets. Scope out eclectic wares from dozens of pop-up tents with seasonally flavored music performed live in the background. Locally roasted coffee and crafted-before-your-eyes mini-doughnuts inspire a cold-weather appetite, creating a holiday atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else in DC.
Santa Claus joins climate action!
In Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, the Arctic Circle, summer is a busy time for Santa Claus. Santa has taken over the protection of an ambitious project called Santa’s Forest. The project aims to make Santa Claus Village a carbon-neutral tourist destination over the next five years while offering individuals and companies a way to offset their carbon footprint.
Santa’s Forest project began in 2019 when ways were sought to promote low-carbon tourism in Lapland. A project funded at that time by the European Regional Development Fund; Santa Claus Village – a year-round international tourist centre, found an operator to Santa’s Forest whose vision was in line with the goals of Santa Claus Village.
Santa’s Forest aims to take responsible tourism one-step further. While responsible tourism seeks to minimize harm to both nature and local culture, Santa’s Forest also seeks to create something new and lasting for the regional economy, nature and people; now tourists can leave behind carbon sinks, nature reserves and jobs for locals.
“Our goal is to plant a million seedlings in Santa’s Forests around Lapland over the next 10 years meanwhile creating a thousand hectares on new nature reserves to act as carbon sinks,” says Judy Saballero, one of the founders of the Santa’s Forest project. “We have created a portal that allows anyone to be involved in achieving this goal with an investment starting from just 10 euros. Planting a tree costs only 2.5 euros per unit and this also includes the acquisition of the ground. The project received seed funding from Business Finland, which has been used to create a conceptual operating model.
When new forests are planted, locals, mainly young people and those in the early stages of their careers, are employed. After planting, these forests will be then turned into nature reserves.
“The Santa’s Forest project provides excellent support for Santa Claus Village’s goal of promoting low-carbon tourism. The operational concept of Santa’s Forest also strengthens the region’s experiential service offering, by providing customers with a new responsible and year-round way to ensure White Christmas in the future,” adds Antti Nikander, the development manager of Santa Claus Village.