ONE COMPANY to have overseen both sides of the Icelandic coin over the past seven years is Promote Iceland who, as a public private partnership since 2010, has looked to revive the country’s good image and reputation by encouraging not just tourism, but the key economic drivers and industries that will make the nation more sustainable in the future.
“Promote Iceland looks to attract foreign tourists and investments to the country, while assisting in the promotion of Icelandic culture abroad,” Manager of Visit Iceland & Creative Industries at the Company, Sigurðarson states. “The idea was to combine all promotional efforts for Iceland together under one organisation; including trade, tourism, culture and foreign direct investments. This is also done in close cooperation with Icelandic embassies and consulates abroad, as well as bilateral chambers of commerce.
“At the same time that Promote Iceland was being established in 2010, the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull happened causing a crisis for the tourism industry. So, for the first time the Government, municipalities and the private sector joined forces with an integrated marketing initiative.
“Since then, the public and private sector has worked under the umbrella brand of Inspired by Iceland for Iceland as a destination with Promote Iceland in charge.”
With a strong focus on promoting Iceland for its natural beauty, its economy, its culture and its people; the key message that Promote Iceland has tried to instil since then has been surrounding the constant development and progress in these
People from all over the world come to Iceland to experience the stunning beauty of our country, the specific characteristics of our culture, and the hospitality of the locals
areas in order to make the country a more wholesome proposition to locals, tourists and business executives alike.
Sigurðarson continues: “Today, tourism is the largest revenuegenerating industry for Iceland, larger than the fishing and aluminium sector combined. When Promote Iceland started it was the third largest and far behind the two others. Our focus in cooperation with the tourism industry has been on decreasing seasonality and in promoting new regional destinations in Iceland.
“This past year we have also put more emphasis on our marketing efforts, and on educating and informing visitors - before and during their stay - about Iceland´s fragile nature, responsible travel behaviour, local culture and Icelandic peculiarities.”
The response over the past seven years has been exactly what Promote Iceland had hoped for with 95 percent of visitors stating their satisfaction from their visit; indicating a more sustainable and year-round make-up to Iceland’s attractiveness.
“To add to this, the Government and the Icelandic Travel Industry Association has joined forces and devised a new Road Map for Tourism,” adds Sigurðarson. “Launched in October, 2015, the Road Map provides a long-term tourism strategy with an emphasis on sustainable development. The long-term vision is that the tourism industry will become a sustainable and profitable sector yielding stable foreign exchange earnings for the economy, and increasing the prosperity and the quality of life in Iceland by 2030.
“The top priority is to invest in product development and the necessary tourism infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of visitors. The Tourism Task Force has started several projects in order to support the infrastructure; such as improving tourist safety, increased funding for development, maintenance and protection of tourist attractions, improving public toilet availability, the protection of the Icelandic nature, and more.”
Studies have shown that the vast majority of Icelandic people are bought into this strategy and are welcoming towards tourists looking to share their natural beauty. And this idea can only be taken one more positive step further for business travellers; upon the realisation that each ‘tourist’ would be bringing vital income into the country as well.
“People from all over the world come to Iceland to experience the stunning beauty of our country, the specific characteristics of our culture, and the hospitality of the locals. We value and respect all of these things and have a clear, long-term strategy to ensure that we protect them,” Sigurðarson concludes.
Volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010
Dettifoss Waterfall Town of Husavik at sunset, north coast of Iceland