A recent report by the Icelandic Tourist Board shows summer 2023 to have been another record year for travel to Iceland.
Approximately 790,000 foreign tourists arrived in the country through Keflavik Airport last summer, about a quarter more than the summer of 2022, making it the second-busiest travel summer since measurements began.
Americans most numerous
Americans were by far the most numerous group of travellers. With around 300,000 in total, they accounted for almost two out of every five tourists.
Other top nations include Germany (60,000 travellers; 7.7% total visits), Poland (52,000 travellers; 6.6% total visits), France (40,000 travellers; 5.1% total visits), and the UK (35,000 travellers; 4.4% total visits).
Of these travellers, the vast majority, about 95% of tourists, were on vacation in Iceland this summer. The remaining 5% were travelling to visit friends and family, on a business trip, or had other reasons for travel.
Capital region most popular
The Reykjavík area continues to be by far the most popular destination among foreign tourists. 90% of travellers visited the Reykjavík area during their travels, due to its proximity to Keflavík International Airport and the services offered.
The South Coast was the second most popular destination, with 79% of travellers visiting. The South Coast was followed by the Reykjanes Peninsula (66%), West Iceland and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula (46%), North Iceland (32%), and East Iceland (28%). The Westfjords were the least popular destination, with only 13% of foreign travellers visiting this remote region of Iceland.
Stable pattern in overnight stays
The report noted that at an average of 8.6 nights, the number of overnight stays has remained the same as in 2022. The trend, however, has been towards increasingly longer stays in Iceland, as an average of 7.5 nights was recorded in 2018, and an average of 7.8 nights in 2019. The report notes that travellers seem to prefer staying in destinations for longer after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Americans were found to spend comparatively less time in Iceland than others, at an average of 6.9 nights. Of the top ten nationalities, German and French travellers had the longest stays, averaging 10.9 nights. Following them were Spanish, Italian, and Dutch tourists with stays ranging from 8.8 to 9.5 nights.
Hotel nights in registered accommodations numbered about 4.3 million for the summer of 2023, an all-time record. This represents an 8.6% increase in hotel nights compared to the summer of 2022. Approximately two out of every five nights were spent in hotels, about 14% in guesthouses, and almost half (46.3%) in other types of accommodations.
The increase in stays in registered accommodations is largely attributable to the increasing preference for longer stays.