New report on tourism’s impact on Iceland

The challenges Iceland faces in the tourism revolution
Over just a short period of time, tourism has taken over from heavy industry and fishing as Iceland’s main driver of economic growth. But there are challenges this creates for such a unique nation, a new report explores.
The 12,000-word report by travel industry site Skift makes numerous interviews to find out how the country has changed in the last eight years with triple-digit increases in inbound tourism. It looks at how tourists reach Iceland, trends in the accommodation types available including the impact of Airbnb, and what can be done to manage tourism more strategically.
As one official puts it, “We’re really worried about how many tourists are coming.”
Svanhildur Konradsdottir, director of culture and tourism at the City of Reykjavik, says, “Looking at Reykjavik now compared to 10 years ago, it’s a totally different city when it comes to tourism. People do come here now particularly off-season for city breaks and 97% of visitors stop in Reykjavik. Our goal has been to extend the number of nights people stay in Reykjavik, particularly off season, and we have been quite successful.”
Other interviewees include the director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, the chief executives of airport operator Isavia and Iceland’s Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, and Skúli Mogensen, CEO of Wow Air who dismisses concerns about over-tourism.
“We as Icelanders, we are just so spoiled. We are used to having no one around us. As soon as one person is there, ‘Oh, it’s crowded.’ Second thing we are spoiled is to drive more than 10 minutes anywhere, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s so far away.’ Compare this to America, where to drive for two, three hours is no big deal.
“We should market the airport, the airport peninsula, Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik, it’s all one region here because they’re so close to each other anyway. We should expand our vision of what is the proximity around the airport.”
The report in its entirety can be found here.

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