More visitors to Iceland in January than ever before

Foreign visitors to Iceland have never numbered higher in the month of January than this year.

Figures have been kept by Keflavík International Airport for over a decade and the Icelandic Tourist Board says that this January tops all before it.

Some 26,000 foreign citizens departed from Keflavík last month; which is 3,900 more than in 2011. Foreign guests in Iceland increased therefore by 17.5 percent between years. The biggest number of visitors in January came from the UK; 26.6 percent of the total number. There was a 53.7 percent rise in the number of Britons visiting Iceland in January compared to the previous January. The next biggest group were people from the USA; followed by Danes, Swedes, French and Germans.

Around 23,000 Icelandic citizens flew out of Keflavík in January, which is a similar number to January 2011.

Hotel occupancy figures for January are not yet available, but there were around a quarter more hotel nights used in December 2011 than in December 2010. 69,200 hotel nights compared with 54,300 the December before — or 27 percent more. 76 percent of hotel guests were foreign citizens. Over the whole of 2011 there were 14 percent more hotel nights used than in 2010.

The Icelandic tourism industry has put an explicit emphasis on winter tourism and trying to even out visitor numbers across the whole year, as an annual summer boom and winter bust in the industry is not seen as a sustainable model. The figures from December and January offer some indication that the marketing campaign is working.