Tourism from Russia worst-hit, Denmark least

13.01.2021 - 15:41
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 Mynd: Anton Brink RÚV - RÚV Anton Brink
The number of foreign tourists visiting Iceland in 2020 was down 76 percent on the year before. Around two million visited Iceland in 2019, compared to 478,000 last year—primarily early in the year and in midsummer. Tourist numbers were their lowest since 2010.

According to a newly-released report from the economics department at Landsbankinn, “this development can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic which has temporarily halted the global tourism industry.” 

Danes still visited 

The number of Danish tourists in Iceland crumbled by a comparatively modest 52.8 percent between years. There were 60 percent fewer Swiss tourists and 61.1 percent fewer British. 

The number of Russians was worst-hit: 88.8 percent lower than 2019—though that is partially also attributed to the weaker rouble exchange rate. The next-largest drop was among American tourists. 88.7 percent fewer Americans visited last year than the year before. 

The Landsbankinn report says that Iceland ranks roughly in the middle among other countries. “When looking at the arrival of tourists here to Iceland by air, we are in the middle of the distribution compared to other countries.” 

Examples of countries that saw smaller decreases include: Mexico (47 percent), New Zealand (57 percent), the Netherlands (60 percent), and Russia (62 percent).  

Examples of countries that saw larger decreases include: Taiwan (85 percent), Japan (84 percent), Greece (77 percent), and the USA (72 percent). 

Uncertain year ahead 

The bank’s national economic forecast from October predicted 650,000 tourists would visit Iceland in 2021. The latest report says that figure remains highly uncertain: “Most home countries of the tourists that have visited the country in recent years have started vaccinating their citizens, but a lot of work remains in order to achieve herd immunity in our main trading countries and it is unclear when that will be achieved. That uncertainty mainly centres on when all the vaccine that has been ordered will be delivered,” the report states. 

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