The Research Department of Íslandsbanki, while welcoming recent news that tourism continues to generate increasing revenue for Iceland, nonetheless expressed concerns with the pace and growth of the industry. The Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF), while not as concerned about growth, do believe the government has not done enough to deal with rising numbers of tourists.
Close to one million tourists visited Iceland last year, generating about 300 billion ISK in revenue, making tourism Iceland’s greatest source of cash. The Research Department of Íslandsbanki estimates that a third of Iceland’s total growth from 2010 can be attributed to tourism, as can 45% of new jobs over the same period.
However, cautions research department director Ingólfur Bender, it is necessary to balance growth with stability.
“Though of course we welcome the increased diversity in generating revenue, and say that tourism has actually increased the stability of revenue generated, we do not want it to grow to more than half the country’s total revenue,” he told Vísir. “That could cause instability to happen all over again.”
Helga Árnadóttir, the managing director of SAF, told reporters she was not worried about any potential instability tourism may or may not cause. However, she does believe the government has not responded to the upswell of tourists as well as they could have.
“First and foremost, it’s worrisome that infrastructural development hasn’t kept up with this great increase,” she said. “All infrastructure, transportation and other matters, is something the government unfortunately has not responded to fast enough, and we have to trust that now things will be built up fast and securely.”
Tourism: Iceland’s Biggest Revenue Generator
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