The director of the Federation of Icelandic Industries (SI) says it is “tragic” that tourists often arrive with everything they need rather than spend money on goods and services in Iceland.
“I think that we can do better, and we should not be shy about a tourist paying more,” SI director Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir told Vísir.
“I often ask myself why tourists who come here, who take a city bus or a tour bus and pay no VAT on this, should pay no VAT [for it],” she said. “Why shouldn’t tourists pay any VAT like the rest of us?”
Guðrún singled out tour groups in particular as a problem.
“It is of course tragic to see that there are large numbers of tour groups who come to Iceland with the Norræna ferry in cars they brought from Europe [instead of renting cars here],” she said. “They bring everything they need with them. They have their own guides, they bring their own food and give little in return to Iceland.”
To remedy this, Guðrún believes all tour guides in Iceland should be Icelandic.
“I think it would be just fine,” she said. “I think the service would be better [with Icelandic-only tour guides] and tourists who come here would get better information about the country and its people.”
As reported, Icelanders have become increasingly aware of what they see as unfair mark-ups on goods and services directed at tourists. The cost of renting a car in Iceland, for example, is three times higher than in other Scandinavian countries. The cost of accommodation and food is also on the rise, with one Akureyri town councilperson telling Vísir he was worried that “our greed will lead us to trouble.”