Iceland annual tourism up by 16 per cent

Iceland annual tourism up by 16 per centIceland’s tourism sector continues to grow amid the island-nation’s ongoing recovery.

According to the latest statistics from the country’s tourism board, the number of foreigners visiting the North Atlantic country grew by 15.9 per cent last year, while the industry now comprises 5.9 per cent of Iceland’s total GDP.

Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson acknowledged the success in an interview with CNN and also noted that tourism has an especially important impact on the country’s economy: “We’ve had this extraordinary growth in tourism in the last few years. Because [in] the tourism structure of Iceland we have many small and medium-sized companies in the north, the east and the west, the economic benefits spread through the economy and all over the country in a way that no other sector actually does.”

For Grimsson and thousands of other Icelanders, tourism is one of several traditional industries seen as sustainable options following 2008’s dramatic banking collapse. And Iceland’s back-to-basics approach appears to be effective, as the nation is likely to shrink unemployment to 5.7 per cent by the end of the year while its economy is forecast to grow by 2.7 per cent.

The news comes just as officials from Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport celebrate a record-breaking year, in which the country’s biggest gateway saw a year-on-year rise of up to nine per cent during peak months.