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Written by Iceland Review   
Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:31

Beloved Tourists (KH) A few days ago Iceland Review Onlinebriefly reported on the typical Iceland tourist.

Very enlightening.

The report was based on the findings of the Icelandic Tourist Board (Ferðamálastofa).

Curious as I am, I took the time to read up on all the reports about international travelers coming to Iceland provided by the Tourist Board and Statistics Iceland.

Firstly, who are all these travelers and where do they come from?

Let's take 2010 as reference year.

That year, approximately 495,000 people visited Iceland.

In the summer season, 59 percent of the travelers were male, 41 percent female and their average age was 43. Twenty-two percent of these people had visited Iceland on a previous occasion.

About 54,000 of my countrymen from Germany invaded Iceland in 2010, an increase of 20.5 percent compared to 2008, when they numbered 45,000, approximately.                                                                                    

Germans are by far the most numerous visitors to Iceland during the summer season and have never been as many as in 2010.           

Also, the stereotypical German tourist has been ridiculed more often than most other tourists. Quite a few Icelanders have told me stories about their experiences with Germans in Iceland.

My countrymen apparently have the habit of stuffing their bags with food when they're at hotel buffets. Always practical and planning ahead: that's my people.

Over the whole year, approximately 65,000 US-Americans came to visit, 113,000 inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries and about 60,000 people from the UK.

A side note: from my personal experience as a barmaid, you can tell from which country customers originate simply by their order.

For example, female tourists from the UK order drinks with Diet Coke. Nobody else, neither tourists nor Icelanders, ever orders Diet Coke. It's astonishing but has proven to be right.

Germans mostly want beer or hot chocolate, while Americans ask for a typical Icelandic drink or Jägerbombs or something way too exotic for Iceland's simple bar menus (like shots with egg white, banana juice, diet tonic, or coffee with peppermint syrup).

Scandinavians always try ordering in their native languages because they expect Icelanders to understand them, whereas French and Spanish tourists usually have trouble ordering in English but then it turns out they just want a pint of beer.

But back to statistics:

Why do all those people come to Iceland?

In the case of 87 percent of all travelers who come to Iceland, a holiday is the purpose of the trip.

Their reasons for booking the journey mostly have to do with their interest in nature and Iceland’s cultural heritage.

In fact, 63 percent of visitors mention nature and the landscape when asked why they opted for this destination. And those 63 percent are right, too, Icelandic nature and landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful.

Without a doubt, nature is Iceland's biggest attraction.

If you look at the top ten list of the most memorable experiences in Iceland, vacationers mostly mention nature or landscapes first, followed by the Blue Lagoon (rather frequented by tourists than locals but admittedly amazing), the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon (a must!), the Golden Circle tour (including the erupting hot spring Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall), lake Mývatn (which lies in a nature reserve with an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds), Landmannalaugar (a popular hiking area), as well as whale watching, volcano tours and the capital Reykjavík.

The annual increase of foreign visitors to Iceland has been 5.3 percent on average over the past ten years.
Quite remarkable. And understandable.

The Icelandic Tourist Board predicts that 2012 will be record-breaking in terms of foreign tourists coming to Iceland.

The total number is expected to exceed 600,000, which means that the number of foreign tourists in Iceland has doubled in ten years. Wow!

Furthermore, it means that there are almost twice as many tourists in Iceland than actual Icelanders. It will be very interesting and exciting to observe this development.

So please, come to Iceland!

Katharina Hauptmann – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 January 2012 23:36

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