The Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF) has published 11 proposals to accelerate the rebound of the tourism sector. The proposals are directed at the government set to accede this fall, with Parliamentary elections taking place on September 25.
The basis for economic recovery
An association of Icelandic tourism companies, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF) aims to promote the common interests of its members and to support the improvement of their services and operations. Looking ahead to the upcoming elections, SAF has published a so-called road map containing 11 proposals on how the government can expedite the revival of the tourism industry, which is the “precondition of society’s economic recovery,” according to the association.
In addition to the proposals, SAF has also launched the website vidspyrnan.is, which features a dashboard of indicators, designed to measure the government’s progress in meeting the aforementioned goals.
The proposals are geared toward the following aspects of the Icelandic tourism industry:
- Operational environment (among the proposals is an abolition of the overnight-stay tax, an aspect of improving the competitiveness of local companies).
- Global marketing (including increased funding to Business Iceland to help promote Iceland as an international travel destination)
- Debt (the resolution of debt, e.g. the deferring the payment of duties)
- Supervision of illegal operations (aiming to limit the illegal operations of foreign entities, which hampers the success of local companies)
- Governance (streamlining the cooperation between different government institutions, for example)
- Data collection, processing, and research (studying the effects of the tourism sector on the economy as a whole)
- Luxury, health, and incentive tourism (direct support for companies within these sub-industries, among other things)
- Rural employment opportunities (incentives to increase the activities of travel companies beyond the Greater Reykjavík Area)
- Qualification and education (permanent funding for the Tourism Skills Center)
- Tourist destinations (support to municipalities to improve facilities at tourist destinations)
- The local market (improving transport between different parts of the country)
“Wont Happen on its Own”
In an interview with RÚV, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, stated that the road map was the travel industry’s contribution to the call for a quick recovery following a pandemic-induced recession. “We hope to demonstrate, with these proposals, what is required if we are to achieve as quick a recovery as we believe is possible.”
When asked if the travel industry requires such “privileges” as called for in the road map – given how quickly the tourism sector seems to be rebounding, with signs of a resurgence already apparent – Jóhannes pushed back against the term: “As regards the section on the operational environment, for example, it’s not only about travel companies – it’s about the economy in its entirety. It’s this idea that although we’re beginning to see a resurgence, such a thing won’t happen on its own.”
Jóhannes concluded by saying that every report concerning the recovery of the economy assumes that the travel industry will lead the way, and that a failure to act could prove costly. “The tourism sector is that industry that can best help us accelerate our recovery. This is not to say that the tourism industry should take over the entire economy. Not at all.”