Iceland Considers Taxes to Deter Floods of Tourists
Once considered the hidden gem of Europe’s tourism industry, Iceland has officially become too popular for its own good. As Bloomberg reports, the Nordic nation is looking to implement taxes and regulations on tourism to provide relief to its overwhelmed economy.
Iceland is one of the hottest travel destinations of the moment: According to the Icelandic Tourist Board, the number of foreign visitors coming into the country more than tripled between 2000 and 2014 [PDF].
Since then, clever campaigns have further boosted its appeal. In 2016, Icelandair launched its “Stopover Buddy” promotion that pairs local hosts with travelers who agree to stay in Iceland for free extended layovers. That same year, Inspired by Iceland released a series of “Iceland Academy” videos instructing potential travelers on subjects like avoiding awkward hot tub moments. The fact that airfare to Iceland is dirt cheap compared to other parts of Europe is also a major draw.
But travelers should expect Iceland to get more expensive in the near future. In an effort to protect the nation’s natural landmarks from the millions of visitors pouring over the border annually, the coalition government is considering requiring tour bus lines and tour companies to apply for special licenses.
Iceland already enforces a hotel tax. It generated roughly $3.6 million for the country last year and could bring in up to $11 million in 2017. The government is now considering raising that particular tax even higher.
Even without the new expenses, vacationing in Iceland can get pricey once that initial plane ticket is purchased. Hotel rooms currently cost about a third more than they do in other Nordic capitals, and alcoholic drinks cost twice the average for the European Union. For up-and-coming destinations that have yet to face tourism backlash, you may want to avoid Western Europe altogether. This handy infographic names countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East as spots to keep an eye on.