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Iceland Mag


Fewer foreign travelers visit NE Iceland: 33% drop in visitor numbers at major destinations

By Staff

  • Dimmuborgir Lava field One of the most popular stops along the Ring Road. Photo/Environment Agency

  • Goðafoss waterfall Another must-see stop on the Ring Road in NE Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

According to preliminary data from traffic counters at popular tourist destinations the increase in the number of foreign visitors has been reversed sharply in North East Iceland. The engineering company TGJ Teiknistofa, which operates the counters, says that the year-over-year drop in visitor numbers between April 2017 and 2018 appears to be as high as 33%.

Fewer people at Goðafoss
The company set up the counters last year to get a real-time picture of the numbers visiting popular sites. Among the sites in NE Iceland where the counters were installed are Goðafoss waterfall and Dimmuborgir lava field. The company also installed counters at Þingvellir National Park, at Gullfoss waterfall in South Iceland and Grábrók crater in West Iceland. 

Read more: Overwhelming majority of Icelanders travel domestically, "chase the good weather" 

Stefán Jeppesen, the CEO of TGJ Teiknistofa told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið that these counters were installed in May 2017 and will produce year-over-year comparison next month: "It's going to be very exciting to see what they tell us."

Good news for anyone wishing to avoid the crowds
This is not the first indication that fewer foreign travelers are visiting destinations further from Reykjavík. Last year tour operators and hotels in East Iceland and the Westfjords reported they had seen a drop in visitor numbers. 

Read more: 7 things you can do to avoid tourist crowds in Iceland

While these news are of significant concern to tourism businesses they should be welcomed by anyone who was concerned that rapid growth of tourism in recent years would lead to unbearable crowds at every turn: Large areas of Iceland are simply too remote to risk being overrun by foreign travelers. 

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