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Number of visitors smashes all earlier records

The number of foreign visitors travelling to Iceland who passed through Keflavík Airport was approximately 1.77m in 2016, or 40% more than in 2015. One may assume that the number covers more than 98% of visitors coming to Iceland. Those who came through other airports and the passengers of the ferry Norræna are not included in this number. The passengers of cruise liners are defined as day trippers and are not, therefore, included in this number.

The year-on-year increase has commonly been 25.4% during the period between 2010–2016. The greatest increase, as stated, was between the past two years. Counts conducted by the Icelandic Tourist Board cover all departures from Iceland through Keflavík Airport, so the numbers include foreign nationals who reside in Iceland.

Records were broken in every month of the year.

Needless to say, there have never been as many visitors over the course of a single year, and the increase is proportionately one of the greatest measured here in Iceland since counts began. There were significant increases in all the months of the year, as can be seen in the graph. The increase was between 30–40% in five of the year’s months, or in March, April, May, June and July. The increase exceeded 40% in five months of the year and was proportionately the greatest in the latter part of the year, or 76.1% in December, 61.4% in November and 59.79% in October.

Most numerous nationalities

Visitors from the US were the most numerous of those who came, or 415,287. This means that almost one in every four who came were from the US, or 23.5%. Visitors from the UK were the second-most numerous, or 316,395 and thereafter come visitors from Germany, 132,789, followed by the French (85,221), Canadians (83,144) and the Chinese (66,781). Swedes, Norwegians and Danes rank in the next places, all with around 50,000 each nation. Specifically counted are visitors from 17 nations, in addition to Icelanders, and the graph shows the most numerous.




Distribution by seasons

If account is taken of the distribution of the visitors by months during the period between 2010 to 2016, one can see that summer’s share of visitor arrivals is decreasing, being 37.6% in 2016 as opposed to nearly half in 2010. The proportional increase outside the peak season, however, has been the greatest over the winter months (January–March/November–December), as 31.1% of visitors came during the winter in 2016. The proportion of winter arrivals was 23% in 2010.



Division by market areas 2016

The distribution of visitors over the year differs depending on the market area involved. Visitors from the UK stand out, as over half of them came during winter. Only one in five from the Nordic countries and from central and south Europe came during the winter. Visitors from central and southern Europe were more conspicuous during the summer months, with 52.7% visiting during the three summer months. Two of every five visitors from North America came during the summer, a quarter during winter and a third during spring or autumn. Around a third of those of other nationalities came during the summer, a third during winter and a third during spring or autumn.

Further information

Counts conducted by the Icelandic Tourist Board cover all departures from Iceland through Keflavík Airport. The division between countries can be seen below, and more information can be accessed under the item Research and Statistics / Number of foreign visitors here on the website.