Iceland Mag

8 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


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

By Staff

  • Do as the locals As numbers of foreign visitors to more remote areas drop, more locals make their way to enjoy the beauty (photo is of Vigur island in the Westfjords). Photo/Björn Baldursson

Newly released data from the Icelandic Tourism board reveals that 84% of Icelanders traveled domestically in 2017. The number has not changed markedly in recent years. Peope took on average 6.2 domestic trips for various reasons. Most (70%) were for recreation. The total time spent on travel domestically was 13.5. 

The data suggest that locals and foreign visitors have very different travel patterns. Visits by Icelanders are far more evenly spread over the country than visits by foreign travelers, who are most likely to visit destinations in South and South-West Iceland. Locals, on the other hand, are as likely to travel to North Iceland as to South Iceland: 56.6% said they had visited North Iceland in 2017, 2% more than in 2016. At the same time the number of foreign visitors to some of the most popular destinations in the North have registered a dramatic drop in visitors.

Chasing the good weather
More locals are also visiting the Eastfjords and the Westfjords, two regions which have seen a drop in the number of foreign visitors. 25% of Icelanders visited East Iceland in 2017, and 22% visited the Westfjords.

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

Locals are also more likely to stay at campsites and holiday homes than foreign visitors. 32.5% of Icelanders say that they camped out at least once on their travel last year, while a third rented a summer cottage from their union. The number of Icelanders who camp while traveling domestically has dropped dramatially in recent years. In 2009 53% of Icelanders camped at least once.  

Staying at campsites allows Icelanders to travel without any fixed travel plans: 18% of respondents say they plan to "chase the good weather" during their domestic travel in 2018.

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