Arion Bank estimates that “thousands” of foreign workers will be needed to work in the ever-growing tourist industry in Iceland.
RÚV reports that the number of tourists to Iceland next year is expected to be up by as much as 20% from this year, which would translate into about 1.5 million tourists in Iceland in 2016 – about 5 times the permanent population.
Anna Hrefna Ingimundardóttir, a research specialist at Arion Bank, says that in order to meet this demand, “thousands” of foreign workers will have to be brought to Iceland, as Icelanders themselves seem to have little interest in pursuing an education in the tourist industry.
Anna Hrefna added furthermore that tourism is approaching the maximum volume that the current infrastructure can sustain. Keflavík International Airport, for example, will very soon be too small, she says, while there has been no excess of vacant hotel rooms despite continued construction.
It should also be noted that foreign workers already comprise a sizable portion of the tourism industry. According to research conducted by the Social Science department of the University of Iceland for the Directorate of Labour in 2008, about two out of three companies in the tourism industry had foreigner workers on their staff.