Currently with 3 confirmed infections, Iceland’s response to COVID-19 was immediate after its first confirmed case on February 28. While infections peaked at the beginning of April, the country was able to almost entirely eliminate the virus by May.
Iceland created a tracking team, imposed strict quarantine measures for people entering the country, and implemented a COVID-19 tracking app used by over 40% of the population. In doing so, the country was able to contain the virus without imposing a strict lockdown to all its residents.
Today, Iceland is hoping to strike the balance between keeping the infection rate down and welcoming international travelers to help a greatly affected tourism sector.
While affected by the economic crisis of 2008 and a volcanic eruption in 2010, Iceland’s tourism has boomed since then. With a population of only 364,000, the country’s economy greatly relies on international tourism, with almost 2 million travelers visiting Iceland in 2019. This year, as most countries are relying on domestic travel after lockdown, Iceland’s tourism sector is at greater risk if international travelers cannot come back this summer.
Iceland is promoting itself as a safe destination to travel to this summer, having implemented a few creative solutions.
Incentivize locals to travel within their country
Initially, Iceland worked on incentivizing locals to discover their own country. The country granted each Icelandic resident a 5000 ISK (around 35EUR) voucher to be spent at hotels and tourism companies around the country this year. Additionally, Iceland created commercials to encourage its citizens to travel domestically. Icelandic officials quickly realized, however, that these measures were not enough. As a result, the country started developing strategies to make Iceland an attractive destination for the summer while maintaining its very low infection rate.
Any foreign traveler who accepts to get tested upon arrival can experience the country without a 14 days quarantine
Iceland will open their borders on June 15 to any traveler from the EU and the Schengen area. The country is considering opening borders to more countries outside of Europe starting July 1. Unlike other countries, Iceland is one of the first to open borders to the whole region at once. Testing will be offered upon arrival at the airport, which will be free for all between June 15 and June 30.
From July 1, the test will cost 100€ per person above the age of 15. Each traveler can choose between receiving a test upon arrival or self-isolating for a duration of 14 days. Even if this creates a higher cost for travelers to visit Iceland this summer, these measures create a safer environment and allow travelers to enjoy their vacations without delay.
Promote a safe place to experience this summer
With only 3 known cases on the island today, and with a very low population density, Iceland could be considered a safer choice for travel during COVID-19. With fewer tourists expected this summer, and with a country full of stunning natural landscapes to explore, respecting social distancing measures won’t be difficult. For travelers who are willing to hop on a plane, Iceland would be the ideal place to vacation while feeling safe.
Advertise an authentic Iceland this summer
Iceland’s tourism has boomed in the last decade and some areas have become overcrowded as a result. This year, however, would offer visitors a chance to experience Iceland without crowds. The country had no need to impose curfews on its citizens, thanks to the general public respecting social distancing rules. With this in mind, travelers can explore Iceland relatively freely and without crowds.
Feature Iceland through its film industry
Iceland attracts an increasing number of film producers, and these are getting more and more attention from the general public around the world. Film production in Iceland is booming, and while the production of the Netflix serie “Katla” resumed last month, the release of the Netflix comedy “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is scheduled to be released on June 26th. The country is attracting visitors thanks to a growing Icelandic pop culture, and these releases might convince travelers to visit this summer.
Iceland could be a crucial role model for other countries when it comes to managing the COVID-19 and tourism. Other countries will be able to observe and take notes to plan their own strategies for reintroducing international tourism.
For more information on local COVID-19 regulations, check our post about Government Hygiene and Operations Safety Regulations.