Tourism Strategy

Tourism Strategy for 2021-2030

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Iceland. Tourism offers a variety of opportunities, but both balance and sustainability must be considered while preserving nature and cultural values.

In January 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Innovation appointed a steering group with the involvement of the Icelandic Tourism Association and the Association of Icelandic Municipal Authorities, which had the task of presenting a draft Future Vision and guiding Icelandic tourism to 2030. The results of that work are now available and can be read here.

Tourism Strategy for 2011-2020

Accepted by Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament, in June 2011.

Parliament resolves to entrust the Minister of Industry with the task of pursuing the following main objectives for tourism during the period 2011-2020:

  1. to increase the profitability of the sector;
  2. to engage in systematic development of tourist destinations, effective product development, and promotion and advertising work so as to create the opportunity to lengthen the tourist season, reduce seasonal fluctuations, and contribute to better distribution of tourists throughout the country;
  3. to enhance quality, professionalism, safety, and environment-awareness in the tourism sector;
  4. to define and maintain Iceland’s uniqueness as a tourist destination, in part through effective analysis and research.

These four main objectives in tourism depend on the following:

1. Infrastructure

  • Iceland’s natural surroundings are a natural resource for the tourism sector. It is important to develop, protect, and maintain tourist sites nationwide. The authorities and other stakeholders must join forces in finding the means to finance such improvements.
  • The development of tourism infrastructure shall aim at protecting nature, and the tourism strategy shall aim at incorporating the concepts of sustainability and responsibility for Iceland’s culture and natural surroundings.
  • The regulatory environment for tourism shall take account of the current strategy.
  • Matters pertaining to tourism-related permits shall be reviewed thoroughly, in accordance with the points of emphasis presented in this strategy.

2. Surveys, research, forecasting

  • It is important that tourism development and enhancement be supported with dramatically increased emphasis on analysis, research, and forecasting.
  • The independence of research must be ensured. The Icelandic Tourist Board shall initiate and be responsible for formulating policy concerning the execution and processing of surveys and shall ensure that forecasts of developments in the sector are carried out.
  • The national accounts shall always include statistical data on developments in the tourism sector from year to year.
  • Best practice will be applied so as to ensure that co-ordinated, in-depth appraisals of nationwide tourism resources and infrastructure are carried out.

3. Product development and innovation

  • Product development projects in the tourism sector will be based on cluster ideology and on strategies reflecting the uniqueness of individual areas.
  • New product development options will be sought with cluster collaboration and transfer of technology and knowledge.
  • Tourism support systems shall be simplified, and it shall be ensured that strong units are in place throughout the country, with professional backing and enough strength to support site development, product development, innovation, and marketing.
  • Public sector funding for product development in tourism shall be used primarily for collaborative projects aimed, among other things, at lengthening the tourist season.

4. Marketing

  • Public promotional efforts related to tourism shall take account of the objectives of the tourism strategy.
  • New options for public promotional work shall be sought, as will the means to increase the professional collaboration among public entities in the fields of product development and promotion and advertising.
  • In formulating collaboration between the tourism authorities and Promote Iceland, it is important that quantifiable objectives and metrics be established.
  • Metrics related to promotion and advertising include travel expenditures according to tourism accounts, foreign exchange revenues from foreign tourists, distribution of hotel bed-nights over seasons and geographical areas, the number of tourists, and surveys of tourists’ expectations and experiences.