top of page

Akureyri, Iceland

Iceland has recently become one of the most popular destinations in the Arctic region. The tourists are attracted to Iceland’s natural areas which are sensitive to outside physical impacts (i.e. tourist visitations). The increased volume of tourists has created overtourism in Iceland. While the tourists may not realize it, their visitation is contributing to Iceland’s ecological damage. This has become a large-scale issue to the extent that Insider magazine claimed Iceland as one of 22 places destroyed by overtourism. Overtourism heavily utilizes and relies upon various tangible (i.e. green space, parks) and intangible (i.e. culture, atmosphere) resources that Iceland does not have the ability to support. As a result, there is increased noise, a decline in residential housing availability, a decline of residents’ quality of life, and a negative attitude towards tourism. The issue, however, grows larger because although cruise tourism may not be sustainable, it has deep economic benefits. For example, after the financial crisis, tourism became the primary generator of new jobs for residents in Iceland. Therefore, Iceland needs the booming tourism industry, but also needs to make sustainable adjustments to its urban settings in order to effectively reap the benefits of cruise tourism.

Recent Findings

In order to better understand how tourism impacts Iceland, a group of researchers in 2019 conducted a study using a content analysis methodology. Content analysis is a well relied upon research method that makes educated inferences based on data that is collected from the media. It is important to note that the media has always been shown to influence the amount of attention that tourism policy has by the way it portrays the impact of tourism on destination communities. The researchers collected about 500 relevant articles, each of which was thoroughly analyzed. Some of the upshots of the study were Iceland’s social media presence and the increased supply of cheap flights was contributing to its overtourism.

Tourism Carrying Capacity Policy

The Tourism Carrying Capacity Policy defines the max number of tourists that are allowed to visit the natural areas within Akureyri. This central policy serves to evaluate how much tourism a certain destination should have. 

bottom of page