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Iceland Tourism

Lawmakers worry a proliferation of data centers lured by Iceland’s Nordic climate and the geothermal steam is threatening the environment and tourism
www.wsj.com | 4/19/18

When Iceland's economy buckled under the pressure of a crumbling currency back in 2008, the island instantly became accessible to travelers with a more varied spectrum of budgets.

Now, 10 years later, the nation has experienced an eruption of tourism, as travelers became increasingly exposed to the ethereal — and highly Instagrammable — landscapes of ancient glaciers and rugged fjords.

Prices have duly exploded as well, and the mirage of the inexpensive Scandinavian vacation is no more.

In recent years, tourism in Iceland has become a more significant part of the economy. Tourist attractions in Iceland mainly revolve around the diverse geological landscape, including glaciers, fjords, geysers, waterfalls, hot springs and lakes. Of particular note are Geysir (a geyser near Haukadalur) and Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland. The aurora borealis are also visible due to Iceland’s latitude, which also act as a tourist attraction. Iceland also has a rich cultural heritage based around the sagas and the Viking-influenced culture.. Salmon angling draws many prominent people to Iceland, including Prince Charles of Wales, who has fished the river Hofsá in Vopnafjörður. The Icelandic Tourist Board (icetourist. is) has offices in Reykjavík and Akureyri, and abroad in New York, USA and Berlin, Germany. The tourism industry was estimated to contribute to 4.1% of the country's GNP as of 2006. Tourism has been steadily growing over the 1990s and 2000s. In 2000, the number of visitors over the year for the first time exceeded total resident population. Over the 2000s, tourism continued to grow by about 11% on average each year, and around 360,000 people visited Iceland in 2004, but since then the number has increased dramatically and in 2007 the number was 485,000 and over 500,000 in 2008. The number of nights spent was at 0.585 million in 2000 and at 1.05 million in 2008. Jobs in the tourism industry were estimated at 7,385 in 2000 and at 8,211 in 2006 (4.5% of the workforce, compared to 6% each in the fishing industry and in agriculture).


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