Yesterday morning at 8:05, 130 tourists from the United States landed at Keflavík Airport, most of them vaccinated. This was the first time since 2019 that Delta Airlines has flown passengers to Iceland and is now scheduling daily flights between the United States and Iceland in May. Iceland is the first country in Europe to permit non-essential travel to people regardless of their origin, including US citizens, who have been vaccinated or have a certificate of COVID-19 recovery. Meanwhile others, not as lucky with receiving their COVID-19 vaccine shot yet, must enter a 5-day quarantine with double-testing upon arrival.
Iceland – the safe haven in a worldwide pandemic
According to Vísir, some of the visitors have been waiting over a year for their trip to Iceland and agreed that the country is a safe destination in a global pandemic.
Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, the executive director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, has said in a conversation with Vísir that bringing the tourists to their destination is a possible start to the Icelandic travel summer. With the US having vaccinated 44% of the population with at least one dose, the wanderlust of Americans is growing. It seems that some influence is already being felt in the tourism industry.
Hallgrímur Lárusson, a driver at Snæland Grímsson, an Icelandic tour operator company, stated that they have sold as much just in the last week as since the beginning of the whole year. He arrived at Keflavík Airport yesterday morning to pick up a tourist who came with the Delta flight and drove him to Reykjavík.
Strati Hvartos, a Los Angeles photographer who plans to stay in Iceland for two weeks with his girlfriend, commented, “We chose Iceland because it seems to be the best option now in the epidemic. We consider the country the safest place to travel to. There are also very few tourists here now.” Compared to 2019, with nearly 2 million foreign visitors before the pandemic, just around half a million foreign visitors came to Iceland in 2020. The numbers for 2021 remain to be seen but the daily scheduled flights operated by Delta raise the hope for a better year for the tourism industry.
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