Santa: still proving popular

Ireland's Lapland tour operators have reported a massive demand for family trips to the Christmas destination, despite the financial pressures of the recession.

Kieran Collins, manager of Heffernan's travel agent in Cork, which organises holidays to the Arctic region every year, said the two trips his company has scheduled have been completely booked up since the beginning of November.

The two flights seat approximately 400 passengers, and the Christmas trips cost between €3,000 and €4,000.

"We are beating the financial targets we had set out for 2009. Despite the problems related to the recession, families still view these trips as an essential part of Christmas for them and their children. In general, families want to get away by the end of the year. Some have saved for these trips and others are planning trips in the sun."

Canterbury Tales tour operator also runs family packages trip to Lapland. A spokeswoman for the company said it had seen a "huge demand" for the trips, and had also had to put on an extra flight from Dublin to accommodate the demand.

"The amount of Irish people looking to go on these trips is far greater than what we were anticipating," she said.

The company has not yet compiled details on how many families will be travelling with it this Christmas.

The trips last on average only two days. On the first day, families engage in snow games like tobogganing and snow mobiling, and on the second, they visit Santa Claus in his cosy home in the Finnish region.