Why tourism is growing year after year.
Iceland’s popularity among travelers is exploding. In 2015, tourism increased almost 30 percent from the previous year, to a total of 1.29 million travelers, making Iceland one of the world’s 10 fastest-growing travel destinations, according to the United Nations World Travel Organization. It’s little wonder why: The Nordic country has abundant natural appeal (shimmering glaciers, dramatic hot springs) and is a relatively short flight from the East Coast of the United States (less than six hours), and the dollar is strong against the Icelandic krona. As a bonus for Europe-bound travelers, it’s a feasible layover.
“After the 2010 eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, a cooperation was formed between the government and the tourism sector to cope with the crisis. This resulted in a joint focus and close cooperation that is still in motion,” Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, manager of Visit Iceland, says.
This partnership has bred stronger marketing efforts and an increased awareness of Iceland globally since then. More airlines have begun flying to Iceland, and Icelandair has formed alliances with U.S. carriers such as Alaska Airlines, Frontier and JetBlue, which Guðmundsdóttir says has helped him and his team market Iceland as a year-round destination.
For 2017, Promote Iceland is focusing on increased funding for development, protection of tourist attractions, positive visitor experience and attracting travelers to destinations in Iceland beyond its largest cities, Reykjavik and Kopavogur.
“To reach these objectives, we’ve initiated the Iceland Academy, a marketing program that playfully informs visitors before and during their stay about Iceland’s fragile nature, responsible travel behavior, local culture and Icelandic peculiarities,” Guðmundsdóttir says. If the past two years are any indication, it seems they’re on the right track.
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