Iceland’s growth strategy in the tourism industry has become a benchmark for the global tourism industry. It reflects, amongst other things, the results of Iceland utilizing the opportunity that presented itself through the unexpected volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 that “shut down” Europe and Iceland for days.
The tourism sector in partnership with the Government used the volcanic eruptions as an opportunity to create a global campaign called “Inspired by Iceland” that boosted the inflow of tourists, now estimated to reach 1.7 million this year, up from 500 thousand in 2010.
Tourism has grown to be one of the most important industries in Iceland, generating more foreign revenue than any other industry. The increase in the number of tourists and the growth in revenue is partly due to the award-winning Inspired by Iceland marketing campaign, where the focus has been on promoting Iceland as a destination for all seasons. Also more frequent flights and increased general interest in what Iceland has to offer during the winter season, including the Northern Lights as well as music, art and design festivals which draw thousands of guests all year round to the country. Surveys show that 95% of those who visit Iceland are satisfied with their trip and 84% say they would like to return.
Iceland is primarily a nature destination, both summer and winter, but it also has a strong offering when it comes to the MICE market (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions). This market represented 7% of Iceland´s tourist market in 2015, an 11% increase from 2014. The growth of the MICE market supports the overall objectives for Icelandic tourism to decrease seasonality as well as to encourage higher spending levels overall. It also contributes to better utilization of resources and long term positive economic impact and growth for the destination.