Iceland’s low-cost airline, WOW Air, has ceased operations, leaving passengers stranded and confused.

Should you requested a bunch of individuals within the final 5 years the place they’d been itching to journey, Iceland would definitely come up. However the newest tourism figures point out curiosity in visiting the nation could also be beginning to lose some steam. 

In 2018, 2.three million folks visited Iceland, 5.5% greater than the earlier 12 months, in response to the Icelandic Tourist Board, however that improve is much decrease than what the Nordic island is used to seeing.

“Lately, tourism in Iceland grew quickly, with a mean year-on-year development in vacationer arrivals of over 25% since 2013, peaking in 2016 with 38% development,” Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, director at Go to Iceland, informed USA TODAY.” And for U.S. vacationers, Iceland’s capital stays among the many 50 hottest worldwide locations, Jennifer Dohm, Head of PR for the Americas at, informed USA TODAY.

Begin the day smarter: Get USA TODAY’s Daily Briefing in your inbox

So why is Iceland now not the most popular cold-weather vacation spot? The reality is, no one’s completely positive. However the lure of different locations, the nation’s costly lodging and the demise of WOW Air may all be partly in charge.

Different locations are attracting North American vacationers 

Iceland remains to be buzzy, however different areas are beginning to acquire extra traction amongst vacationers.

Dohm stated that world searches for Greenland on ticked up 52% in 2018 whereas Iceland searches solely went up 17%.

“We’ve been seeing extra ‘Instagrammable’ and distant locations develop in reputation during the last 12 months, together with different North Atlantic locations like Greenland,” Dohm stated. 

Different information from signifies that North American vacationers are flocking to international locations like Eire, Turkey and Japan. Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto’s customer numbers have grown by virtually 9%, this previous 12 months with a document excessive of almost 32 million visits. 

Might overcrowding − or speak of it − be part of the difficulty?

Clive Stacey, managing director of journey company Uncover the World, informed The Telegraph that “the decelerate is partly because of the truth that the place is getting a fame for being a bit of bit crowded, however that doesn’t imply that it’s.”

Chris Davidson, EVP of Insights & Technique at journey and hospitality advertising company MMGY World, informed USA TODAY that information exhibits “vacationers are simply as , or much more so, in visiting whilst (worldwide or home locations) improve in reputation.”

Davidson says they have little proof to again up the notion that vacationers are bothered sufficient by overcrowding at main tourism locations however that “there could also be a tipping level the place vacationers in the end really feel the expertise is considerably compromised by lengthy traces and crowded streets,” he added.

Iceland is dear

Curiosity is not completely fading for vacationers, but it surely might be altering.

Vacationers in Iceland are beginning to spend much less whereas visiting the nation, in response to Rochelle Turner, analysis director of the World Journey & Tourism Council.

Turner informed USA TODAY “spend per customer has been declining,” and vacationers at the moment are shorting their journeys to the nation and primarily going to Reykjavik and areas across the southern coast, versus elsewhere in Iceland.

The Arion report contradicts Turner and located present vacationers aren’t spending much less time in Iceland simply but due to cheaper lodging like Airbnb.

Lodge and restaurant costs in Iceland are a few of Europe’s highest, with lodging prices greater than doubling up to now decade, in response to an October 2018 report from the analysis arm of Icelandic financial institution Arion. 

However Lodge Worth Index information present the common worth paid per evening for five-star accommodations dipped to $478 in 2018 amid the slow-down of Iceland’s tourism. U.S. vacationers paid $550 per evening in 2017.

WOW Air shutdown might be partly in charge

Arion reviews the “elevated capability of the Icelandic airways” performed a major function in Iceland’s tourism spike a couple of years in the past. Lower to at this time: Iceland’s low-cost provider WOW Air ceased operations on the finish of March, leaving passengers left within the lurch. 

“Development has been dragged down partly because of a decline of (WOW Air), nevertheless different airways at the moment are beginning to decide up the flight routes,” Turner famous. Iceland’s slowing development final 12 months must be examined in context to its prior sturdy development, Turner added. 

Icelandair, American Airways, Delta, United Airways, Norwegian Air and Aer Lingus have been among the many carriers providing discounted fares for affected WOW customers.

Pálsdóttir of Go to Iceland echoed Turner’s sentiment: “Iceland tourism shouldn’t be as depending on particular airways as earlier than since there are a lot of extra airways providing flights to and from Iceland in comparison with few years in the past.”

Cooling anticipated to proceed

Turner says the World Journey & Tourism Council predicts four.2% common annual development over the subsequent decade, which might be extra sustainable than the earlier increase. Pálsdóttir of Go to Iceland, too, says information signifies a stabilizing of Iceland’s tourism development. 

Iceland confronted an financial collapse a few decade in the past and had since hung out recovering. An affiliate professor on the College of Iceland, Gylfi Magnusson, informed Bloomberg in October tourism disaster may affect the economic system at massive, like “demand for labor, investments in accommodations, the present account steadiness, the alternate charge of the krona (Iceland’s forex), and so forth.”

Contributing: Sara Moniuszko, Daybreak Gilbertson


Present Thumbnails

Present Captions

Learn or Share this story: