137,000 Foreign Passengers Departed Iceland in February

Keflavík Airport

Approximately 137,000 foreign passengers departed from Iceland via Keflavík Airport in February. This is nearly as many foreign passengers who left the country in 2018 when departures were at their peak.

British and American travellers most numerous

According to a press release from the Icelandic Tourist Board, approximately 137,000 foreign passengers departed from Keflavík Airport in February. This number is roughly equivalent to the departures in February 2020 and represents 86% of the peak departures recorded in February 2018. Of the departures, British and American travellers accounted for more than two out of every five (39,000 Icelanders departed from Keflavík in February).

In February, British travellers left Keflavík Airport in the greatest number, or around 39,000 (28.7% of the total). The British were followed by American travellers at nearly 21,000 (15.1% of the total). These two nationalities have consistently been the most frequent departures in February for the past two decades, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

Departing German nationals composed the third most numerous departures in February (6.8% of the total), and French travellers were the fourth most numerous (6.7%). These nationalities were followed by the Poles (4.0%), the Irish (3.7%), the Italians (3.4%), the Chinese (2.9%), the Danes (2.7%), and the Spanish (2.2%).

Since the beginning of the year, about 258,000 foreign passengers have left Iceland, while at the same time last year, their departures were about 143,000. In total, departures in January and February this year were about 84% of the departures recorded in the same months in 2018 and 90% of those recorded in 2019.

Record Number of Icelanders Travelled Abroad in October

Nearly 72,000 Icelanders travelled abroad in October. Never before have as many Icelanders departed the country in October since measurements began. At the same time, 159,000 foreign travellers departed from Keflavík Airport in October, most of whom were American.

A strong desire to “get moving”

The Icelandic Tourist Board reported yesterday that 72,000 Icelanders – a fifth of the total population – travelled abroad in October. Never, since measurements began, have as many Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in the month of October.

“This confirms that Icelanders behave just like people from other countries. Their will to travel has grown, with a strong desire to get moving having gradually accumulated,” Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, told Fréttablaðið.

Pre-pandemic levels in 2024

The Icelandic Tourist Board also reported that nearly 159,000 foreign travellers departed from Keflavík Airport in October. According to information from Isavia, this represents the fourth most numerous departures from Iceland in October since measurements began. Departures from Iceland in 2022 have generally amounted to ca. 90% of departures in 2018, suggesting that air traffic will soon reach record highs.

“It’s gradual success and nothing else,” Jóhannas Þór observed. “Demand this year has been much greater than expected,” he added, noting that it would take more than one summer to recover from the effects of pandemic-imposed social restrictions.

“The problem is, and will remain, multifaceted, and relates to staffing shortages and debt accumulation; the financial state of companies in the travel sector won’t improve overnight. We estimate that we’ll be where we were before the pandemic in 2024.”

Travellers from the United States accounted for the largest share of tourists in Iceland in October, or approximately a third of all tourists.

US Citizens Account for a Third of All Airport Departures in September

Travellers Keflavik airport

One hundred seventy-seven thousand people departed from Keflavík international airport in September, new data from the Icelandic Tourist Board shows. This makes last month the fourth busiest September the airport has seen since the Tourist Board started keeping such records. Last month, departures at Leif Eiríksson International Airport were 76% of what they were at their peak in 2018.

US citizens accounted for a third of all departures

Most of September’s recorded departures can be attributed to ten nations, with Americans making up the largest proportion of travellers, or 30.1%. All told, 53,315 Americans departed from Keflavík last month. Americans have made up Iceland’s largest block of foreign visitors since 2013 and this year’s numbers are similar to those recorded in 2017.

Germany came in a distant second, with 15,965 departures (9%) in September, followed by 10,791 travellers (6%) from the UK, 8,538 travellers from Spain, and 8,345 from France (roughly 4.7% each). The top ten was then rounded out by Poland (7,639 departures; 4.3%), The Netherlands (7,267; 4.1%), Canada (7,003; 3.9%), Italy (5,887; 3.3%), and Denmark (5,439; 3%).

Over a million foreign tourists since the start of the year

As an increasing number of people return to international travel post-COVID, tourism in Iceland is clearly on the rebound. Since the start of the year, 1.3 million foreign travellers have departed from Iceland, compared to 445,000 departures between January and September of last year. Even so, this year’s numbers are about 277,000 departures short of what they were in 2019.

Icelanders travelling in record numbers

Roughly 60,000 Icelanders travelled abroad in September, making it locals’ most-travelled September ever. Since January, 441,000 Icelanders have departed from Keflavík, which is 95% of the total number of Icelanders who flew abroad during the same time period in 2017, 87% of the total who flew abroad between January and September 2018, and 94% of the same count in 2019.

Record-Number of Icelanders Departed from Keflavík Airport in May

According to data from the Icelandic Tourist Board (Ferðamálastofa), 65,000 Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in May. The number of departures has not been higher since measurements began.

Previous record broken

As noted in a press release published on the website of the Icelandic Tourist Board this morning, 65,000 Icelanders flew abroad from Keflavík Airport in May. Never before have as many Icelanders departed from the country in May since measurements began. The previous record for departures among Icelanders from Keflavík was in May 2018, or nearly 63,000.

Approximately 450,000 travellers – of which 200,000 Icelanders – have departed from Keflavík Airport since the beginning of the new year. At the same time last year, only 32,000 departing passengers were recorded.

As far as the month of May is concerned, the departures of foreign passengers were also significant, with approximately 112,000 departures. This number has only been exceeded on four other occasions (the most in May of 2018). Nearly a fourth of departing passengers, or 26,000, were American. The second most populous group of travellers were British, or 9,500.

Double the overnight stays compared to last year

As noted by RÚV, the number of overnight stays in Icelandic hotels in May was approximately 255,000, twice as many compared to May last year (35% of beds were in use). Icelandic residents accounted for 54,000 overnight stays in May compared to 201,000 tourists.

The total number of overnight stays in Iceland in 2021 was just over 5 million. Never before had as many Icelanders accounted for such a large percentage of those overnight stays, or 40% (almost two million). In 2019, the number of overnight stays in Iceland was 8.5 million, a figure that plummeted during the pandemic. Statistics Iceland expects a busy summer as far as foreign tourists are concerned.