Icelandic travel and tourism companies have started hiring again

Ásgeir Ingvarsson

Morgunblaðið

After being forced to let go of almost all their workers at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic Icelandic travel and tourism companies are showing signs of recovery and have re-hired some of their staff.

One of these companies is Arctic Adventures – among the biggest in the sector – which offers a variety of day tours out of Reykjavik as well as longer tours that can span several days and include most of the highlights of every region of Iceland.

Arctic Adventures had 152 employees who were all fired in late April but 20% of them have now returned to the company. In an interview with Pétur Hreinsson for the Morgunbladid, CEO Styrmir Þór Bragason estimates that this year’s turnover will be about 30-35% of what it was last year. So far this month the company has sold about 26% of the number of tours it was able to sell in the same period in 2019.

“This is better than we had dared to hope. Everything seems to be moving in the right direction, although the volume is much lower than before. Looking back a month and a half we are now in a better place than we could have imagined,” he says.

Mr Bragason expects a wave of consolidations in the Icelandic tourism industry as many businesses will need to streamline their operations and minimize overhead. While he does not expect Arctic Adventures to have to merge with other businesses Bragason says that his company will respond to current market conditions by relying more on the services of contractors for tasks like giving guided tours.

In his opinion the recovery of the tourism economy in Iceland will depend largely on how quickly other countries recover and air travel normalizes. He gives Malta as an example of a place where the industry has experienced a quick turnaround: “I know that right now all hotels in Malta are full. That is, first and foremost, the result of plenty of available fights with both easyJet and Ryanair offering frequent connections. They opened their border on June 15th and by July 15th everything was packed full.”

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