Too many tourists for Iceland to handle?

Iceland, marketing, tourism, overtourism, capacity, rooms, hotels, volcano, Reykjavik, Visit Iceland, too many

Parts of Reykjavik lack the infrastructure to cope
Iceland’s tourism boom may be saving the country’s economy, but 1.7 million tourists in a country of just 300,000 people could be too many to handle.
The Blue Lagoon, a mineral-rich pool of geothermally heated water and one of the island’s most popular attractions, is welcoming 1.3 million guests this year, up from 50,000 guests in its first operational year in 1994.
The total 1.7 million people who visited Iceland last year is more than triple the number that came in 2010. That year, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano was seen as a disaster for tourism.
“In the long term it had a tremendous positive effect because Eyjafjallajökull was one of the things that put Iceland on the map,” says Grimur Sæmundsen, the lagoon’s chief executive.
“Maybe tourists heard of Iceland for the first time in the various airports when they were stranded.”
Now the economy is growing at more than 7% a year, unemployment is under 3% and foreign currency is pouring in. But some sites lack the infrastructure to cope.
In summer Reykjavik’s restaurants are filled to capacity. The shortage of hotel rooms means AirBnB is flourishing, while the capital’s shopping streets have become a stream of tourist shops. Property prices are too high for locals to afford.
But Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, director of Visit Iceland, says “we’ve been putting the focus on the other regions of Iceland” and the numbers should start to spread around Iceland instead of being concentrated in Reykjavik.
“At this point I don’t think we have an overflow – if you talk to someone just outside Reykjavik they’re complaining that they want more travellers to come and visit them,” she says.


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