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Tourists Rent Cars in Record Numbers

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Tourists Rent Cars in Record Numbers

Cars near Dettifoss

Photo: Northeast Iceland Police Department/Facebook.

Last year, more than half of foreign tourists who visited Iceland, or 960,000, rented a car and drove on average 230 km (143 mi) a day, according to a new report by the Icelandic Road Administration. Twice as many tourists rented a car last year than in 2014, and nearly six times as many as in 2009 when 166,000 rented one.

The average distance driven in the winter time was close to 1,100 km (684 mi), but nearly twice as long in the summer, or 2,150 km (1,336 mi). The total distance driven by all foreign tourists combined last year was 540 million km (336 million mi), assuming that there were three people in each car. That amounts to 20 percent of total distance traveled by Icelanders in private cars that year.

The 540 million km driven by foreign tourists last year is six times the comparable distance driven in 2009 and twice what in was in 2014, representing an equally increased strain on the road system by rental cars.

Almost all foreign tourists interviewed for the report, or 97.1 percent said they always used seatbelts. Five percent reported having driven off-road many times, 36 percent seldom and 69 percent not at all.

Only 24 percent of respondents knew of the website savetravel.is; only 14 percent knew of the website road.is, which shows road conditions and closures.

Incidentally, the decision was made yesterday to allocate over ISK 100 million (USD 918,000, EUR 852,000) the next three years to the project safetravel.is, RÚV reports. The highland watch of ICE-SAR will receive added support, up-to-date safety information system provided by Safetravel on screens at major tourist destination will be improved, material on driving on the website safetravel.is will be translated into Chinese, and operating hours at the Tourist Information Center will be longer than before.

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