In my journey to understand how personal travel planning fits into Iceland’s future tourism strategies, I attended a conference on the future of tourism in Iceland.
The pain points
There was a lot of discussion on how to manage the tourism flow in Iceland. Up until now, tourist attention has been focused mainly on the south coast and on the Reykjavik area because they are closest to our international airport at Keflavik. But those tourist flows have left a number of destinations overcrowded, while other locations of equal or greater merit are far less visited.
Change of focus
The conference made me very optimistic that Iceland’s government and tourism authorities are starting to change the focus. Going from short-trip mass tourism to a slower way of traveling. Encouraging longer visits and spreading the visitors around Iceland. An additional emphasis involved encouraging more connection with Iceland’s culture and its people.
This was music to my ears, as one of the main elements of my own Iceland personal travel planning service involves encouraging local connections. These connections add extra spice to an Iceland trip. Making it unforgettable and encouraging people to return or spread the word. As we know, word of mouth is the best marketing!
“Slow tourism”, personal contact between travelers and locals, and emphasis on authentic sights and experiences are the key aspects I have been advocating for a long time. Specifically, with a focus on spreading people around and using the airports in the north and east to manage the pressure on the south coast and the Reykjavik area.
There is no need to go to locations where you stand in line to go to the bathroom or can’t find parking due to crowd. Particularly when sights with comparable or greater impact are relatively nearby.
Are the most popular destinations the best?
For this reason, the most popular places are not necessarily the most amazing and impactful for the traveler. In truth, the temptation to take the same Instagram pictures as your friends when they came to Iceland can really limit what a traveler can see or do while they are here.
Personal Travel Planning
Indeed, personal travel planning can deliver a much more tailored and interesting experience than covering one’s friends’ Instagram footsteps. Obviously we need an alternative approach to tourism. One that encourages longer visits, covering a wider range of locations – combined with personal travel planning. This mix can provide more unforgettable and more sustainable experiences.