Fewer tourists in March compared to same month last year

The number of foreign tourists in March is likely to have decreased, contrary to what official records claim.

Thingvellir, Iceland. Credit: Giuseppe Mondi / Unsplash

Around 173,000 foreign passengers travelled from Keflavík International Airport in March 2018, which is an increase of 3 per cent compared to the same month last year. Although roughly 5,000 more passengers travelled from Iceland’s main transport hub in March, the increase in passenger numbers is considerably lower than in previous months.

However, as Turisti.is has pointed out before, this number is likely distorted because of self-connecting passengers using Keflavík Airport as a gateway between Europe and North America. A survey conducted by the national airport authorities showed that 11 per cent of foreign visitors in July 2017 were self-connecting passengers who did not overnight in Iceland, and are therefore not tourists by definition. As a result, the number of tourists visiting Iceland in 2017 is more likely to be just under 2 million instead of 2.2 million as official records maintain. With this in mind, it is very probable that the number of tourists visiting Iceland in March has in fact decreased, as opposed to a 3 per cent increase.  

What further distorts official tourist numbers is the fact that foreign nationalities living in Iceland are generally counted as tourists as they hold foreign passports, and Icelandic expats visiting home are considered to be Icelanders travelling abroad. What more, the number of British tourists flying directly from the UK to Akureyri Airport in North Iceland, are completely absent from these statistics.