Gray Line, one of the biggest bus companies in the country, has reduced its staff by 32 employees in the last few months and sold eight of its busses, Vísir reports. Þórir Garðarsson, the chairman of the board at Gray Line, says that this is because the Icelandic tourism industry is clearly experiencing a downturn, which he attributes to the strengthening króna and its role in decreasing foreign tourists’ spending power in Iceland.
Just over 2.2 million tourists came to Iceland last year, as compared to half a million visitors in 2011. The industry’s growth has, however, slowed in recent years. Recent earnings of bus companies such as Gray Line seem to bear this out: Frjáls verslun recently reported that five of the biggest bus companies in the country, including Gray Line, had lost a total of ISK 319 million ($2,737,257/€2,394,786) in 2017.
“All in all, we have reduced our previous staff by 32 and of those, we’ve laid off 27. We made a strategic decision in the spring to reduce our fleet and have gone down from 78 busses to 70,” said Þórir.
Þórir still remains somewhat hopeful about the outlook of the tourism sector and Gray Line by extension, saying: “…[W]e can see signs now that the purchasing power of foreign tourists is increasing, and we can see a brighter time ahead in the coming year.”