Iceland Mag

10 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


More than 1/10 of overnight stays in Airbnbs, almost as many at campgrounds, in camper vans

By Staff

  • Reykjavík It is difficult to estimate the number of Airbnb apartemtns in Iceland or the number of overnight stays at these apartments. Photo/Anton.

Overnight stays in 2016 were roughly 8.8 million, including stays at unregistered stays like Airbnb, Statistics Iceland estimates. Airbnb accounts for just under 12% of the total. Stays at campgrounds and in camper vans are estimated at 11% of the total. Hotels account for 59% of the total. The overwhelming majority of overnight stays were by foreign travellers, or 89%. 

New hotels can't keep up with demand
According to figures from Statistics Iceland overnight stays at hotels and guest houses were 5.2 million in 2016, a 26% increase over 2015. The supply of hotel space has increased, as well as the occupancy ration, particularly during the winter months. The occupancy ratio was highest in July and August, when it was 91%.

Read more: Construction of new hotels in Reykjavík continues apace: 50% more hotel rooms by 2020

Despite rising occupancy ratios and more hotel rooms, the increase in the number of foreign visitors has exceeded the increase in the available accommodation. The shortfall has been met by unregistered accommodation which is sold through websites like Airbnb. Statistics Iceland estimates that the the number of properties available through such websites is 3,600, most of which is in the capital area.

Non-hotel accommodation
In addition to hotels, camp sites and airbnbs, summer cottages and vacation apartments operated by the labour unions account for a significant number of the overnight stays in 2016. However, these are probably exclusively used by Icelanders while Airbnbs are likely primarily used by foreign travellers. If this is the case we can estimate that roughly 15% of overnight stays by foreign travellers were in Airbnbs.

Read more: One in five foreign visitors in 2015 stayed at Airbnbs in Reykjavík

Estimating the number of overnight stays at airbnbs is very difficult, as providers of Airbnb apartments have not been required to register with the authorities until very recently, and monitoring is very limited. Previous studies had shown that 4% of all apartments in Reykjavík are listed on Airbnb at least part of the year, and that as many as 20% of all foreign visitors had stayed at an Airbnb while in Iceland. The figures from Statistics Iceland are therefore clearly on the conservative side.


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