Wake Up Call
After decades of being off the travel grid, the world has discovered Iceland. What took so long? Its location in the far North Sea and its foreboding Nordic climate made it seem too remote and cold. There was also the misperception that Iceland might be beautiful, but also boring. Other than its frosty winters it lacked the cool factor so it remained buried in tourism’s boondocks for most of the jet age.
With its “nowhere else on earth” volcanic shaped backcountry it was only a matter of time before buzz built among adventure travelers. When the less adventurous foodie contingent discovered it, the perfect storm had arrived and Iceland became the next hot destination.
Everyone is attracted to Iceland’s tranquility. In a more dangerous, less egalitarian world, Iceland’s low violent crime rate and large (97%) working class was appealing. Tension between the social classes doesn’t exist in Iceland and this is reflected in the insanely low crime rate. The cops don’t carry guns and Icelanders leave their babies unattended at times.
Iceland’s isolation was solved by cheap flights. Low fares from the U.S. to Iceland have been around since the 1970s when Icelandair used the country as a jumping off place to see the rest of Europe. Now Icelandair promotes Iceland as a destination in and of itself, with still low fares by 2015 standards. Now Icelandair and cut rate competitor WOW are engaged in a fare war and you can fly roundtrip on WOW from Boston for just under $500. The non-stop trip from Boston is a quick overnight five hours and Icelandair still lets you jump off in Iceland for seven days before going on to Europe for no extra layover fee.
Combine Iceland’s unique mix of mountains-glaciers-waterfalls-rugged coastline, with the growing sophistication of Reykjavik, and Iceland’s tourism has taken off. You could trek through a glacially carved valley, soak in geothermal spa resort, then go into Reykjavik for a great meal and a jazz concert. All this on a relatively compact island, so who could resist?
Numbers Tell the Story
In the early 1980s, just 80,000 foreign visitors came to Iceland and the tally didn’t hit 300,000 until 2000. By 2015 visitation hit 1 million, according to Iceland’s Tourism Board with 42 percent showing up in summer. The rise of the Internet fueled some of this growth as Iceland’s tech savvy tourism industry fanned the flames getting the word out to millennials online. A strong lineup of summer music festivals, terrific wilderness guide services and a decent hotel infrastructure also accommodated the growth.
So what should you do? You love exotic, untouched destinations before the maddening crowd spoils them. While Iceland is hot it’s not melting down. There are many backcountry places that are still lightly visited and Tusker’s Iceland itinerary will place you there. Now is the time to visit this new hot adventure travel destination.