Iceland is hardly an isolated island anymore.
Last year, close to 800,000 tourists visited the Republic, an increase of 19.2 percent from 2011, and 44 times more than those who came to Planet Iceland 50 years ago, 17,239.
Two places, Keflavík International Airport and the ferry terminal at Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, account for 98 percent of incoming visitors, excluding 92,000 cruise ship passengers, a 47 percent increase from last year.
Close to 50 percent of all tourists visited during the three summer months.
U.S. citizens make up the biggest group with 14.9 percent, followed by Germans with 13.8 percent, French with 8.3 percent and U.K. citizens with 7.3 percent. Fifth and sixth on the list are Denmark and Norway, both with 6.1 percent. Swedes are next with 5.0 percent. Tourists from these seven nations account for 61.5 percent of those who visited Iceland in 2012.
The biggest increase in 2012, 32 percent, was in the number of tourists visiting during the last three months of the year, a total of 153,000. The increase from the U.K. was a whopping 61.3 percent, making up one in every three tourists to Iceland during that period. Maybe they were fleeing the record autumn rains in Britain.
Yesterday, managing director of Promote Iceland Jón Ásbergsson predicted that in two years, in 2015, one million tourists will set foot in Iceland, a year earlier than previous predictions.
One million. Three times Iceland’s population.
I think that is the limit. The infrastructure, the fragile nature cannot cope with more people.
Some places, like Landmannalaugar, the gateway to the highlands, are overcrowded.
But... there are still places where you can witness the pure nature of Iceland all by yourself.
The West Fjords, Langanes in the northeast, Skagi peninsula, and Lónssveit, just north of Höfn in Southeast Iceland, are among them.
But for how long?
Páll Stefánsson - firstname.lastname@example.org