It is possible that tens of billions of crowns were lost in cancelled flights and tourists who never arrived due to the ash eruption at Eyjafjallajökull.
There were initially high hopes when the more visually appealing and less destructive volcano at Fimmvörðuháls erupted, prompting a brief surge in tourists coming to see the volcano. However, when the frankly unattractive Eyjafjallajökull ash eruption belched forth a dark cloud that prompted European officials to shut down air traffic across the continent, numerous cancellations occurred in its wake. The losses – not only in terms of flights but in hotel rooms, dining, and assorted tourist activities – are estimated to be up in the tens of billions, RÚV reports.
The Iceland Tourist Board also reported additional cancellations when President Ólafur Ragner Grímsson painted a grim picture for the BBC that the Eyjafjallajökull eruption was just the prelude for a more devastating eruption coming from the volcano Katla. The president, after receiving harsh criticism for these remarks from the tourist board, the Confederacy of Icelandic Employers and the Minister of Industry, later back-pedalled, telling the BBC that Katla’s eruption was years or possibly decades away.
On a related note, journalist and film-maker Ómar Ragnarsson, writing on his blog, takes the position that even this eruption could be made into a tourist attraction; that rather than scaring people into staying away from Iceland because of a volcano, we should rather encourage them to come and check it out. He points out that when forest fires struck Yellowstone National Park in 1988, the media reaction was to call it a “disaster”. Today, the forest fires themselves are actually a tourist attraction in the form of a theatre showing footage of the fires.