12 Feb. — The Icelandic Tourist Board published statistics on foreign citizens’ visits to the country in 2015. The total number of tourists increased by 29.2%. Among the leading countries, Russia showed a catastrophic decline (-38.8%).
The statistics on tourism are collected in Iceland on the basis of data from international airports and ports. The capital of the country, Reykjavik, remains the leading transport hub. Over 90% of arrivals to the country enter through its airport (Keflavík) and port.
In 2015 the number of arrivals to the country by airplane increased in comparison with the previous year by 29.2%, to 1,289,140 persons. 30.2% more entered through the airport Keflavík, and 2.3% more by Seyðisfjörður. The rest of the airports showed an overall decline of 15.6%. At the same time, 4.5% less tourists, 100,141 persons, arrived by cruise ship.
The statistical data also makes it possible to assess the national composition and seasonal preferences of the tourists. In particular, the overwhelming majority were from the USA or UK. They made up 38.3% at the Keflavík airport alone. As far as seasons, the greatest growth last year was observed in May (36.4%), September (39.4%) and October (49.3%), which the Icelandic Tourism Board explained as being the result of a positive information campaign in the mass media, a favourable exchange rate, and airline companies’ discount programmes.
In total, 29% of tourists came to Iceland in 2015 during winter (November – March), 30.5% came during the spring or autumn (April – May, September – October), and 40.2% in summer (June – August).
Despite the overall positive results, there were a couple obvious negative moments. For example, the number of tourists from Norway decreased by 4.2% – from 53,647 to 51,402. However, the real crash happened in the Russian sector, where the number of tourists fell by 38.8%, from 7,964 to 4,877, because of the weakened rouble and higher prices of airplane tickets. As a result, according to the Centre for Retail Studies, the total volume of money spent by tourists from Russia decreased by 42.8% in a year. But they had been in the leading group, spending the most money per person. And in certain categories, for example, bars and restaurants, they had even led.
Update: Exclusive reaction from the Embassy of Iceland in Moscow — “We will see many more Russians travelling to Iceland”