16% Year-On-Year Growth in Overnight Tourism Stays for 2023

Tourists walk carefully during extreme weather in Reykjavík

In 2023, overnight stays in Iceland increased by 16% year-on-year, with Icelanders accounting for 22% of these stays. Looking ahead, 2024 is forecasted to be a record-breaking year for tourism, potentially surpassing the previous peak in 2018.

Icelanders accounted for 22% of overnight stays

According to initial figures for overnight stays in 2023, there were nearly 10 million overnight stays at all types of registered accommodations, compared to 8.5 million in 2022, representing a 16% increase year-on-year, Statistics Iceland reports

Overnight stays by Icelanders accounted for about 22% of all stays, or approximately 2.1 million, which is a 9% increase from the previous year. Overnight stays by foreign tourists were about 78% of all stays, or around 7.8 million compared to 6.6 million the year before.

In 2023, there were about 6.6 million overnight stays in hotels and guesthouses, and 3.4 million in other types of registered accommodations (apartment rentals, holiday homes, campgrounds, etc.). The total number of hotel stays was about 5.3 million, a 12% increase from the previous year. As noted by Statistics Iceland, all regions of the country saw an increase in overnight hotel stays.

Moderate increase expected in 2024

In a letter published on December 31, 2023, Bjarnheiður Hallsdóttir, Chairperson of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF), noted that forecasts predict a moderate increase in tourists in 2024. If these predictions hold, 2024 will set a new record in tourism in Iceland, exceeding the previous record from 2018.

“The year that has just concluded was predominantly positive for the Icelandic tourism industry. It seemed poised to become the first year since 2018 without major disruptions to the sector’s operations, a much-needed respite after the challenges of the preceding years. However, towards the year’s end, seismic events in Reykjanes cast a shadow over this progress. As a result, demand fell, and tourism companies in the vicinity of the seismic activity had to temporarily shut down.”