Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori
WHO? Jan Vapaavuori is the mayor of Helsinki. He manages the city’s administration, finances and other activities. In practice, the mayor is responsible for all matters affecting the people of Helsinki as a whole, from small to large. During one day, he might tackle the cleanliness of the city’s parks and the implementation of a strategy to combat climate change.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Helsinki so far?
Helsinki has so far dealt with the coronavirus pandemic well. The situation has not become critical at any stage, and people have followed the instructions of the authorities well. New kinds of community spirit and neighbourhood help have emerged. A healthy crisis awareness has increased. At the same time, I am concerned that all segments of the population will have the information and assistance they need. And that even during the summer, the situation would develop peacefully for the better.
Particularly tourism has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. How do you see the future of tourism in Helsinki?
In recent years, Helsinki has invested in sustainability and quality in tourism. We are not aiming for huge quantities in tourism, but for the quality of tourism, and that will also benefit the local community and entrepreneurs. Helsinki has been developed as a city first and foremost for the well-being of the local community. We believe that through this, tourists will also get an authentic and local experience of the city.
We do not yet know how tourism will develop in the future, but I believe that Helsinki’s strengths are an attraction to tourists also in the future. As a functioning, safe and ecologically sustainable city, Helsinki also has a lot to offer to congress and corporate event guests.
How is the exceptional situation reflected in the city’s operations this summer?
We have made every effort to promote the safe opening of the city. It is vital for local services and the development of the city that during the summer people want to move around the city, visit destinations, eat in restaurants and attend events. However, everything has to happen safety first.
Helsinki city’s summer 2020 is full of small and slightly bigger events, such as the Suvilahti Summer series of events. In addition, restaurants have been given permission to build larger terraces and, for example, make use of the park areas. Helsinki’s number one location, Senate Square, has a large restaurant and terrace area this summer, which enables people to spend a communal summer safely outdoors.
The city monitors the development of the coronavirus situation, makes the necessary updates to the guidelines and works actively with citizens and the local community throughout the summer.
What would you like to say to an international tourist who has arrived in Helsinki this summer?
In Helsinki, it is possible to spend an active and authentic Finnish summer combining nature experiences and urban city life. Everything is close by, and the services are functional. Safety is at the heart of it all. Helsinki offers a wide range of experiences in a compact package, for which you would normally have to travel to several places. And this increases responsibility and safety. As the capital, we take care of our tourists with joy and pride this summer as well.
When you receive guests from abroad, what do you introduce them to in Helsinki?
The best things about Helsinki are diversity and accessibility. I am always happy to present Helsinki’s beautiful archipelago nature and nearby islands, the vital and interesting art scene, as well as opportunities to move around. The best thing about Helsinki is that you can experience all of these in just one day.
More info: www.vapaavuori.net/en/