Iceland sees first drop in tourist numbers in years

Decline in tourist numbers can be attributed to WOW air’s bankruptcy. Despite the drop, number of visitors remains higher than in 2016.

Credit: Norris Niman / Unsplash

578 thousand foreign visitors came to Iceland during the first four months of 2019, according to statistics provided by the Icelandic Tourist Board. That’s roughly 50,000 fewer visitors compared to the same time period last year. This is the first time the number of foreign visitors to Iceland has dropped since the country’s tourist boom began in 2010.

The number of foreign visitors arriving in Iceland had been growing steadily over the past years and more than quadrupled between 2012 and 2018. In comparison, when the national tourist board began collecting visitor statistics in 2003, the cumulative number of foreign visitors in Iceland during the first four months of the year was 64,000.

The decline in tourist numbers this year can largely be attributed to the fall of low-cost carrier WOW air in March, just as the airline could be credited with much of the growth in tourist numbers in 2017.