ICELAND Sees Record-Breaking Rates in Tourism Overnight Stays

The positive outcome of Iceland’s summer season and tourism rates so far this year have been evidently soaring, as the local media, Visir reported that there were over 7.1 million overnight stays recorded in the country during the first nine months of the year, reaching an all-time high record.

According to Jóhannes Þór Skúlasyn, the executive director of the Tourism Association, the number of nights spent has never been higher than in September, with 11,677 rooms being occupied and even more needed, reports.

“Although this development has taken place in recent years, we see that the need is greater. There is a need for at least one medium-sized or large hotel in the East, two in the North, and one each in the north and south of the Westfjords,” he said.

However, as the director noted, new patterns of tourism were noticed this year compared to the previous ones, when stays were longer. This year, American and tour groups from Germany had longer stays than before, and the trend is noticed in figures from car rentals, with cars being rented for longer periods.

He also added that the length of stays by the tourists is expected to be shortened, with the economic situation in Europe being a factor. Additionally, energy prices and high inflation will impact people’s purchasing opportunities.

On the other hand, Americans remain loyal to Iceland as their destination for trips, continuing to book flights there, indicating that the war and energy crisis haven’t affected this nationality group as much as they did Europe.

Centre for Aviation (CAPA) has revealed that the tourism sector in Iceland has witnessed an almost full recovery this summer, as the number of tourist arrivals reached 96 per cent of those recorded in 2019.

Tourism rates are expected to excel even further, with a total of 1.7 million foreign tourists being anticipated to reach Iceland this year. This number is expected to increase by 600,000 more next year.

“Next year, we predict that there will be over 2.3 million tourists. However, there must be a certain caveat to these forecasts because many uncertainties can affect it. We are looking at card turnover, and according to the forecast, we expect the amount they will spend to be around 250 billion this year and around 330 next year,” says Dr. Gunnar Haraldsson.

According to Haraldsson, winter tourism is recovering, but there are indications that seasonal fluctuations might occur. Overnight stays this year totalled almost 4.5 million, but as the forecast reveals, the number will jump to 5.5 million next year. Another long-term forecast reveals that 3.5million international tourists are expected to visit Iceland in 2030.