The Future of Iceland’s Tourism
Behind the Scenes
It’s hard to believe that only a few decades ago Iceland’s tourism infrastructure was virtually non-existent. Means of transport were limited, access to sights was often difficult, the food was uniform, activities were scarce and accommodation options were few and far between. The current variety and quality of services available did however not come about by chance – The Icelandic Tourism Association has diligently been expanding and improving the industry through co-operation and co-ordination between the multitudes of different parties involved in the industry.

To give you an insight into the inner workings of Iceland’s tourism industry, we take you to a recent conference arranged by the Capital Area’s branch of the Icelandic Tourism Association where innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship were on display.

Mutual Goals

Ingibjörg Guðmundsdóttir, chairman of the Capital Area’s branch, says it was very enjoyable to see the amount of originality and fresh ideas at the conference. “There are always new parties coming up with new and exciting ideas and the human imagination seems to be the only limitation we have. This steady flow of new enterprises makes The Icelandic Tourism Association all the more important, as we need to ensure that everyone operates on the same level of quality and safety. We also make sure that the environment is such that newcomers with quality products or services receive the support and information they need to set up their business,” says Ingibjörg. The association also serves as a platform where tourism operators can compare, share and co-operate. “In our opinion, both the industry and customers are better served when the operators are aware and informed of what is currently on offer. Thus an operator providing activities, but not accommodation can direct his customers to a suitable option and vice versa,” says Ingibjörg.

Guarding the Treasures
The protection of natural resources is a matter of great importance for the association. “There is a growing concern that some of Iceland’s treasures could be in danger by the increasing number of people visiting them. It is our opinion that this does not need to be the case and with proper infrastructure and funding we can preserve our nation’s treasures and, at the same time, allow the world to enjoy them. We have also seen that, as the industry grows, people have started presenting new hidden pearls from all over, as an alternative to the staple attractions,” says Ingibjörg.

Smartphone Take Over

The arrival of smartphones into the industry is bound to revolutionise the way we approach travelling, according to Ingibjörg, as is evident by the number of mobile solutions at the conference. “The way we plan our trips and activities has already changed fundamentally, as you can plan entire trips without even leaving your bed. Smart phone applications seem to be taking this evolution to the next level and it is an exciting time to be working in this field,” says Ingibjörg.

Among the novelties being presented at the conference was a mobile phone application, Be Iceland, which enables you to discover whatever restaurants, museums or activities are available in the immediate vicinity in which you are standing. Another application, from Locatify, takes you on an informative treasure hunt of sorts, where you race around an area looking for clues to take you to your next location, each filled with information, pictures and media.

Iceland is known worldwide for its gay rights, as gay marriage is legal, its prime minister is outspokenly gay and Reykjavík’s mayor is a frequent spokesman for gay rights. Pink Iceland capitalises on Iceland’s open-mindedness and provides gay, bisexual and transgendered people tailor-made vacations suited to each lifestyle.

Also on display were exciting adrenaline fused tours, standardised quality control systems, guided elf visiting tours and diving courses in between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe. A brief inside look into Iceland’s tourism industry thus reveals a landscape as diverse and unique as Iceland itself.

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