Icelandic Tourism Industry Adjusts to New Reality

Hótel Sigló, Siglufjörður, North Iceland.

Hótel Sigló, Siglufjörður, North Iceland. Photo/Mikael Sigurðsson

Vala Hafstað

Numerous Icelandic companies in the tourism industry are considering whether to lay off the majority of their staff by the end of the month. A number of tourists have canceled reservations through the end of the year, especially since stricter measures were adopted at Icelandic borders August 19.

Since that day, all arriving passengers have had a choice between spending 14 days in quarantine or else be tested for the coronavirus at the border, spend four to five days in quarantine, and subsequently be tested for the virus again.

Travel industry leaders have voiced their disappointment with the new rules, while the government has supported its decision by arguing that imposing them is the best way to protect the health of the nation and the domestic economy, since an increase in the incidence of new cases of COVID-19 would require strict domestic disease prevention measures - costly for every industry.

Vök Baths, East Iceland.

Vök Baths, East Iceland.

Clearly, many businesses will offer limited service, or even close, this winter, Morgunblaðið reports, while others are adjusting to the situation by planning a wide variety of options for Icelanders, who normally would be traveling abroad.

When the Alps are no longer an option, ski areas in Iceland can expect increased demand. At Hótel Sigló, Siglufjörður, North Iceland, people believe Icelanders will be attracted to the ski areas. The same is true at KEA-hotels in Akureyri, where a newly improved ski area in Hlíðarfjall mountain is expected to attract.

Mountaineers of Iceland and Arctic Adventures are adjusting their program to the needs of Icelanders by offering winter trips for families and smaller groups.

Visits to luxury geothermal baths are popular, and there will be plenty to choose from in that area: the GeoSea geothermal sea baths in Húsavík, as well as the Mývatn Nature Baths, North Iceland, will remain open this winter, and Krauma geothermal baths, West Iceland, will at least be open on weekends. Vök Baths, East Iceland, will remain open as well and plans to cooperate with guest services in the region that offer all sorts of travel experiences.

Hotel owners hope Icelanders will be willing to take weekend trips to the countryside when going abroad for a weekend is no longer an option. A number of hotels will offer good deals and packages sure to attract.

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