Tourists To Iceland In Second Quarter Of This Year Down By 20% From Last Year - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Tourists To Iceland In Second Quarter Of This Year Down By 20% From Last Year

Published July 15, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Bjarni Brynjólfsson

New data from Statistics Iceland shows that visitors to this country have declined, with Airbnb hardest hit, though with little change to hotel bookings.

According to the numbers, the number of tourists in Iceland in May of this year was 173,000. In May 2018, that number was around 209,000. In fact, for the second quarter of 2019, there was a total of 390,000 visitors, down from 488,000 during the second quarter of last year.

However, the most interesting data concerned guest accommodation.

Statistics Iceland’s figures show that accommodation as a whole declined by 10% last May, compared to the same month last year, but this is a statistical average. Most of this decline was found with bookings on Airbnb and similar sites, while there was little statistical change when it came to hotel bookings.

While bookings on Airbnb and similar sites declined by 29%—from 125,000 in May 2018 compared to 89,000 last May—hotel bookings for this month only declined by 3%. In fact, hotel bookings for the entire second quarter of 2019 only declined by this amount, while for Airbnb, the decline was 14%.

Airbnb has long been a contentious phenomenon in Iceland, as elsewhere in the world. This is due in part to most Airbnb listings in Iceland not being legally registered, thereby depriving Reykjavík of millions of ISK in revenue, but also due to its negative effect on the rental market.

With a significant drop in Airbnb bookings, while hotel and guesthouse bookings changing very little between last year and this one, some pressure on the rental market may be relieved. A clearer picture may develop later in the year.

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