Approximately 300,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Ísafjörður via cruise ships next summer, RÚV reports. Receiving so many tourists is a “challenge,” the mayor of Ísajförður has stated, with many residents keeping entirely out of the downtown area during the busiest periods.
Mass arrivals to test infrastructure
Ísafjörður, located in Iceland’s Westfjords, is a town of roughly 3,000 residents.
Next summer, tourists – numbering ten times the town’s population – are expected to arrive in Ísafjörður via cruise ships. A total of 218 ships, carrying 245,000 passengers (excluding crew members) have announced their arrival.
During a 35-day period next summer, RÚV notes, 3,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Ísafjörður every day. “8,200 tourists are expected to arrive in town during one particular day.”
In an interview with RÚV published this morning, Arna Lára Jónsdóttir, Mayor of Ísafjörður, added the caveat that experience had shown that there were always a few cancellations. “Nonetheless, this is a record number of arrivals, which will greatly test our infrastructure. That much is clear.”
Avoid the downtown area completely
As noted in RÚV’s article, the port dues paid by cruise ships have become the main source of income for Ísafjörður harbour, which also comprises the harbours of Þingeyri, Flateyri, and Suðureyri.
(The Ísafjarðarbær municipality was founded in 1996 with the merger of six municipalities in the northern Westfjords: the districts of Þingeyri, Mýri, Mosvellir, Flateyri, Suðureyri, and Ísafjörður).
By directing traffic through these four harbours, the municipality would be able to ease the burden. “Those passengers that arrive here, go all the way to Arnarfjörður, to Dynjandi, or here into Djúpið. So we’re able to distribute the burden, so to speak,” Arna Lára observed, noting that the numerous arrivals presented an opportunity for the travel industry – although it was important not to overdo it.
“There are many residents who monitor arrivals at the harbour; they may decide to avoid the downtown area completely in the event that there are four or five cruise ships arriving.”
Arna Lára added that Ísafjörður was a fishing town and that the fishing industry needed its space: “We’ve got to strike a balance. But there are many days in Ísafjörður where we’re completely booked.”