Tour Operator Arctic Adventures Buys Kerið Crater

iceland tourism private land

Arctic Adventures has acquired all shares of Kerfélagið, the main asset of which is Kerið in Grímsnes, a popular tourist destination in South Iceland. Viðskiptablaðið reports.

The tour operator bought the shares from Óskar Magnússon, Ásgeir Kristinsson, Sigurður Gísli Pálmason, and Jón Pálmason, who held a quarter stake in the company.

A natural gem

In a statement to the press, Óskar Magnússon, chairperson of Kerfélagið, stated that “everything has its time.” The company has owned Kerið for 23 years, he stated, but it is clear that the next phase of development in the area is approaching.

Óskar continued: “We consider this an opportune time to pass the torch so that new owners can build according to their vision. Arctic Adventures is a reliable and thriving company that will undoubtedly continue to enhance Kerið. At this juncture, we, as shareholders, have decided to establish a dedicated fund to support sustainable environmental protection in the spirit that has proven successful in the development of Kerið. We have had a unique collaboration with the farmers and other neighbours in the area. It is our firm belief and experience that this type of operation is best served with strong local involvement, as we have been fortunate to enjoy.”

In their announcement, Arctic Adventures stated that their policy is to offer sustainable and eco-friendly travel services. Among other destinations managed by the company are the Raufarhólshellir caves on the Reykjanes peninsula and “Into the Glacier,” a tunnel and popular tour destination in Langjökull glacier.

Ásgeir Baldur, CEO of Arctic Adventures, stated: “Kerið is one of the most remarkable natural gems in the country. We believe there are good opportunities for further development in the area, as well as ongoing nature conservation efforts. Kerið is on a popular route and accessible for longer or shorter sightseeing trips. We are pleased to have secured these acquisitions and are planning developments. Arctic Adventures is committed to environmental protection, and our relationship with nature is of utmost importance to us.”

Many of Iceland’s most popular tourist sites are located on privately owned land, though Icelandic law ensures that the public can access these areas. Other notable tourist destinations on privately owned land include Geysir, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, and Reynisfjara beach.

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Another Record-Breaking June for Icelandic Tourism

tourists in reykavík

The latest numbers from Statistics Iceland show that June 2023 saw some 1,176,600 overnight stays in Iceland. This is a 17% increase from June 2022, which saw 1,012,300 overnight stays.

Of the total overnight hotel stays, foreign travellers accounted for 77% of the total, or 903,400. Domestic travellers accounted for 267,200 of these overnight stays.

Hotels and guesthouses accounted for some 703,000 or around 60% of total stays. 468,000 overnight stays, or around 40% of the June total, were registered in other accommodations, such as camp grounds and Airbnb apartments.

Airbnb alone is estimated to have accounted for 200,000 overnight stays last month.

Statistics Iceland notes that since last year, the supply of accommodation has remained more or less unchanged. The new 2023 June numbers show a 1.3% increase in occupancy rates across the nation.

So far, Iceland has seen just over 4 million overnight stays this year. The previous cumulative total for June was in 2018, with 3,534,000 accumulated overnight stays. This is a 15.5% increase from the previous record.

Statistics Iceland notes the following: "Due to abrupt changes in supply and occupancy rates, estimation for other types of accommodation than hotels is currently subject to a higher degree of uncertainty than usual and should therefore be taken with a special precaution until final numbers are available."