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Tourism in Iceland

Tourism in Iceland

Iceland recorded a total of 2 million tourists in 2019, ranking 96th in the world in absolute terms.

That smaller countries regularly perform lower in a comparison of the absolute number of guests, is obvious. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Iceland, the result is much more comparable picture: With 6.0 tourists per resident, Iceland ranked 24th in the world. In Northern Europe, it ranked 1st.

Iceland generated around 3.13 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 14.40 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 3 percent of all international tourism receipts in Northern Europe.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism


Back to overview: Iceland

On average, each of the tourists arriving in 2018 spent about 1,101 US Dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of Iceland spend as much as 2,397 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

Tourism in Iceland

Development of the tourism sector in Iceland from 1995 to 2019

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Iceland each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Tourists per year in Iceland

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 309.00 million USD, or about 4.4 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 211,000 tourists at that time and roughly 1,464 USD per person. Within 23 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased drastically. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 3.13 billion USD, accounting for 11.91 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 1,257 USD for his holiday in Iceland.

Tourism receipts in Iceland per year

All data for Iceland in detail

YearNumberof touristsReceipts% of GNPIncome per tourist
20192.20 m
20182.49 m3.13 bn $11.91 %1,257 $
20172.35 m3.02 bn $12.23 %1,285 $
20161.89 m2.41 bn $11.60 %1,275 $
20151.39 m1.62 bn $9.2 %1,165 $
20141.10 m1.38 bn $7.7 %1,248 $
2013900,0001.08 bn $6.7 %1,198 $
2012765,000865.00 m $5.9 %1,131 $
2011628,000751.00 m $4.9 %1,196 $
2010559,000562.00 m $4.1 %1,005 $
2009563,000550.00 m $4.2 %977 $
2008561,000881.00 m $5.0 %1,570 $
2007539,000848.00 m $4.0 %1,573 $
2006477,000702.00 m $4.1 %1,472 $
2005429,000635.00 m $3.8 %1,480 $
2004405,000558.00 m $4.1 %1,378 $
2003348,000486.00 m $4.3 %1,397 $
2002315,000415.00 m $4.5 %1,317 $
2001329,000383.00 m $4.7 %1,164 $
2000328,000386.00 m $4.3 %1,177 $
1999281,000380.00 m $4.3 %1,352 $
1998255,000372.00 m $4.4 %1,459 $
1997223,000314.00 m $4.2 %1,408 $
1996223,000312.00 m $4.3 %1,399 $
1995211,000309.00 m $4.4 %1,464 $


Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The WTO additionally points out that in some countries the number of tourists is only counted at airports, in others also at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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