Record number of foreign tourists in Iceland 2009


Iceland, in spite of challenging worldwide economic times, experienced yet another record year in arrivals in 2009.

“We expect considerably more tourists in 2010 than last year,” states Ms. Olof Yrr Atladottir, director general of the Iceland Tourist Board (ITB) on the organization’s website.

Nearly a two percent decrease in the number of tourists visiting Iceland by air and ferry was bolstered by a 16 percent increase in the number of cruise ship passengers – bringing the total to a positive 0.7 percent.

Outbound travel from Iceland decreased by a hefty 37 percent mainly due to near 50 percent depreciation of the local currency, the Icelandic krona (ISK), making it much more expensive for the Icelandic people to travel abroad than before. The depreciation of the ISK was the result of the collapse of the country’s banking system in October 2008.

However, outbound tourism is off to a good start in 2010 according to outbound tour operators.

In 2009, some 566,000 tourists visited Iceland, an island nation inhabited by 317,000 people, making tourism one of the most important export industries. Both major airlines serving Iceland, Icelandair, and Iceland Express, have added more flights this year in anticipation of an increase in demand.

For anyone visiting Iceland as a tourist, the depreciation of the ISK is good news. A tourist in Iceland would have paid the equivalent of US$40 for a large Domino’s pepperoni pizza before the depreciation of the local currency. Today the same costs US$22.