Icelandic Tourism: Past Directions—Future Challenges

Jóhannesson, Gunnar Thór, Huijbens, Edward Hákon and Sharpley, Richard (2010) Icelandic Tourism: Past Directions—Future Challenges. Tourism Geographies, 12 (2). pp. 278-301. ISSN 1461-6688

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ttention has been focused primarily on warm-water islands; conversely, limited
attention has been paid to cold-water islands as destinations for tourists. This paper assesses
the development of tourism in one such destination, Iceland, and discusses its history and the
challenges confronting it. Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Icelandic economy.
Tourism arrivals have multiplied in recent years, doubling, for instance, in the ten-year period
between 1997 (201,000) and 2007 (459,000). This growth in arrivals has prompted rapid
expansion in the tourism sector, invoking questions with regards to both the opportunities
tourism presents and the challenges that will need to be addressed in the near future. In
order to underpin a critical appraisal of future challenges, this paper reviews the history of
modern tourism in Iceland with a focus on policy and entrepreneurship in tourism. It describes
the characteristics of tourism in Iceland and its development, and critically illustrates some
of the main challenges the tourism industry in Iceland is facing. In so doing, the paper seeks
to add to the understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing cold-water island
destinations that are experiencing significant growth in tourism.
KeyWords: Cold-water island tourism, Iceland, tourism development, tourism policy, sociosustainability

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