Tourists in Iceland blow billions on plastic

Photo: Iceland Monitor/Styrmir Kári

Tourists have spent ISK 217 billion (approx. €1.8 billion) on their credit cards so far in 2016, with the month of November standing out as a period of strong growth for the Icelandic tourist industry.

Figures from the Icelandic Centre for Retail Studies for the first eleven months of 2016 show that credit-card spending was some 50% higher than in the same period just one year ago.

November is usually a relative quiet month in the Icelandic tourism calendar – but 2016 has clearly bucked this trend. Tourists spent ISK 15.3 billion (approx. €129 million) on plastic last year – 67% more than in November 2015, and more or less the same amount as in July 2013.

Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson

This is in line with the increase in November tourist numbers – 131,723 foreign nationals landed at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) last month, 61.4% more than in November 2015.

The areas seeing the greatest rise in credit-card spending in November (as compared to November 2015) were air transport (+170%), petrol, car repairs and maintenance (+84.6%), sightseeing tours (+78.2%), car hire (+68.3%) and accommodation (+57.3%).

Photo: Iceland Monitor/Styrmir Kári

Based on the total amount spent on credit cards last month and the number of arriving foreign nationals at KEF, it can be estimated that each visitor spent an average amount of ISK 116,000 (approx. €975) on their credit card during their stay.

The biggest spenders in November, as in previous months, were the Swiss, spending ISK 225,000 (approx. €1,895) each, followed by visitors from the US and Denmark.




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