Iceland’s Volcanic Eruptions Briefly Hit Tourism Boom



Skift Take

The volcanic eruptions are over for now, but they continue to deter some tourism to Iceland. Yet they’ve also piqued the interest of adventure travelers.

Iceland’s volcanic eruptions have deterred some tourists, according to an analysis of booking patterns released Thursday.

Last week, international searches for trips to Iceland were down 62%, according to travel data analytics firm ForwardKeys. That followed the Svartsengi volcano eruption on January 14.

In December, when there was an eruption near the town of Grindavík, international arrivals were down 10% from 2019 levels, ForwardKeys said. There was also a drop of 9% in August. From July 10 to August 5, a volcano near mountain Litli-Hrútu erupted.

Despite those dips, Iceland was one of the most popular destinations in Europe last year. The island had over 7 million international tourist night stays in the first 10 months of 2023, up 8% from 2019, according to Eurostat.

Both luxury tour operators Kensington Tours and Jacada Travel told Skift they’ve seen a drop in tourist interest.

“Iceland has been slightly down for enquiries,” said Alex Malcom, founder of Jacada Travel. 

“It’s still down,” said Kelly Torrens, vice president of product for Kensington Tours. “People are very nervous about it and it’s very unfortunate.”  

News Coverage Hurt Tourism to Iceland

A lot of the damage has come from news coverage of the eruptions. Even though the eruptions were confined, some travelers felt they wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy their trips, said Torrens. 

“They’re very hesitant to make commitments to travel if they’re not completely sure that the trip is going to run in the way that they imagine and there won’t be closures,” said Torrens. 

During the eruptions and seismic activity in December and January, Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, was temporarily closed.

Adventure travelers, however, have not been deterred. The eruption has actually sparked interest in the island. Adventure travel operators G Adventures and WeRoad told Skift demand for Iceland remains strong.

“We are more than doubling our volumes to Iceland compared to last year so it seems our customers are not scared by the eruption,” said WeRoad CEO Andrea D’Amico.



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