Director of the Icelandic Tourist Board Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir stated that while tourism is the biggest contributor to economic growth in Iceland at the moment, the tourist industry will not be able to cope with continued increase in number of tourists of the same magnitude.
For the first time in the country’s history, service export is proving more profitable for the national economy than product export, of which tourism is the main pillar, ruv.is reports.
“It has been reported before that tourism is sustaining economic growth, which is of course the clearest indication of how important the industry has become and that it must be tended to so that it can remain important in the future,” Ólöf reasoned.
The number of tourists coming to Iceland has increased vastly in the past years, among other reasons due to the attention the country received after the volcanic eruptions in 2010 and 2011, devaluation of the Icelandic króna and increase in flights.
“Iceland is ‘in’ … which is pleasing in many sense. But at the same time, there are many tasks we have to deal with if it is supposed to continue to be the case,” Ólöf said, adding it is difficult to estimate how many tourists the country can handle.
Cities can handle more tourists than sensitive natural hotspots, Ólöf explained. “We must find a balance … The industry will not be able to take continued rapid growth as in the past few years, around and above 20 percent, long-term.”
In recent months, landowners have expressed concern over the growing number of tourists visiting sites on their land, which have started to show damage.