The Business End
INITIALLY FOUNDED in 1786 as a trading town, its significance as a national and regional core of political, business and social development has culminated in a modern day status as one of the safest and greenest cities in the world once combined with the peripheral, organic prominence of the area.
Subsequently becoming the centre of Iceland’s overall growth throughout the centuries, it is perhaps a little unfair that its notoriety in more recent times has come virtue of the 2008 economic meltdown in the country. Just two years on from being named the richest city in the world by The Economist Group in 2007, the country was thrown into disarray by 2009, as numerous projects were halted, investments were no longer a viable option and foreign business interest waned.
For any other city, this would be an irreparable disaster, but for a country that has primarily always relied on plus-points untainted by boardroom implications, there is now a northern light at the end of the tunnel.
“The tourism industry is today the largest revenue-generating industry for Iceland. The Government has been putting more emphasis on the industry with a long-term emphasis on sustainable development and better infrastructure,” Sigurðarson explains. “In 2012, Iceland had the highest seasonality among the Nordic countries. Only three years later it decreased by more than 20 percent though, meaning that the increase in visitor arrivals is happening in offseason months. At the same time, visitor guest nights have increased by 18-31 percent - on average - year-onyear in every region of Iceland.
“This all provides more sustainability as well as creating a whole year-round industry which was not the case before.
“Tourism has been the only jobcreating industry since the financial recession, increasing employment from around 11,000 in 2011 to 25,000 today; accounting for 13 percent of the Icelandic workforce. In 2015, the tourism sector contributed seven percent to the national GDP, compared to four percent a few years ago.”
Landmannalaugar, South Iceland