Iceland Mag

8 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Despite dramatic growth in tourism in Iceland, fewer people visit the magnificent Westfjords

By Staff

  • Dynjandi waterfall One of the most picturesque waterfalls of Iceland is just one of the countless hidden jewls of the Westfjords. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

People working in the tourism industry in the Westfjords fear that a stronger Icelandic króna is starting to undermine the industry, forcing foreign visitors to spend less time and less money on their trip to Iceland. This development, they argue, is already showing its effect in more remote destinations, like the Westfjords. One historic roadside hotel reports a 35-40% drop in overnight stays.

Hotels and restaurants cutting down on staff
Tourism professionals who spoke with the local newspaper Fréttablaðið argue that the peak tourism season is starting off poorly in the Westfjords. Hotels and restaurants in the region have been cutting down on the number of staff to meet the drop in traffic. Some operators have considered closing down altogether.

"I have never before had to let people go in June, and things don't look good for the rest of the summer" one hotel operator told Fréttablaðið, adding that he has seen a dramatic drop compared to last summer. 

Stronger króna primary culprit
The primary reason for the drop in tourism is the strengthening of the Icelandic currency which has appreciated by ca 17% compared to the Euro in the past 12 months. A stronger krona means that foreign visitors get fewer króna for their currency. 

Foreign visitors have responded by spending less, shopping at grocery stores rather than eating out, and renting camper vans rather than staying at hotels or guesthouses. In some cases this has gone too far, some in the tourism industry complain, for example when people staying in camper vans park in the parking lot of restaurants or hotels to sleep, rather than going to a camp ground. 

"I think we are getting a lot of people who come to visit Iceland, but are not really willing to pay anything for the privilege," one of the people who spoke to Fréttablaðið complained.


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