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Iceland Mag


US travellers make up more than half of the increase in foreign travellers visiting Iceland

By Staff

  • At Þingvellir Depending on how the data is read the tourism boom is either showing no signs of slowing down or some signs of leveling off. Photo/Pjetur

The latest figures on the number of foreign travellers visiting Iceland reveal that while there are signs of a slight slow-down in the rate of increase the tourism boom Iceland has been experiencing in the past few years shows no sign of letting up just yet. A major reason is a large increase in the number of US travellers visiting Iceland: More than half of the year-over-year growth in tourism is made up of American travellers.

A slowdown in growth, or changing travel habits?
According to data from The Icelandic Tourism Board 1.2 million people visited Iceland during the first seven months of 2017. This represents a 33% increase over the first seven months of 2016 when 930,000 people visited Iceland. The rate of increase during the January-July period in 2017 shows a slight drop when compared to 2016 when the number increased by 34% compared to the year before.

Read more: An exaggerated tourism boom? Numbers of visitors to Iceland probably overestimated

The Icelandic Tourism Board notes that the growth in the number of foreign visitors has been slowing down significantly this year, suggesting a change in the distribution of travellers. In 2017 the summer months have seen a far smaller increase than the off-season. The year-over-year increase in July was only 15%, compared to a 75% increase in January.

Read more: 64% of Icelanders positive toward foreign travellers, just 10.5% hold negative views

It is still too early to judge the implications of these figures, as they could either suggest that the explosive growth in tourism is slowing down, or that the growth in summer tourism is leveling, even as off-season tourism continues to grow.

US travellers make up 1/3 of visitors
A major driver of the growth in tourism are American travellers. During July the increase in American travellers made up 57% of the total year-over-year increase. At the same time the number of UK travellers dropped by 9%. A major reason for the drop in visitors from the UK is the falling value of the UK pound, following Brexit

Read more: Growth of tourism shows signs of slowing: only 7% increase in overnight hotel stays in May

Nearly a third of all foreign travellers in Iceland in July were from the US. Out of the 271,920 foreign travellers who visited Iceland in July 80,622 came from the US. The second largest group of foreign travellers was from Germany, 25,620, and the third largest from the UK. 16,551 UK travellers visited Iceland in July.

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