New Tourism Tax Could Make Going to Iceland More Expensive
Iceland's dramatic landscape and cameos in popular shows like “Game of Thrones” have made the country a hotspot for international travelers, leading its government to consider raising its taxes on tourists.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Iceland's tourism minister, Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, said the ministry is looking into several options for increasing tourism fees, which could include raising the current hotel levy or requiring bus and tour companies to obtain special licenses in order to operate.
“This sector and all of us have to be careful not to become victims to our own success,” Gylfadottir said in the interview.
While raising fees would be one way to address a growing number of tourists, another alternative could be to limit tourists' access to popular sights in an effort to maintain their appeal and limit the effects of overcrowding.
“Some areas are simply unable to facilitate one million visitors every year; if we allow more people into areas like that, we’re losing what makes them special—unique pearls of nature that are a part of our image and of what we’re selling,” Gylfadottir said.
Additionally, studies from the Icelandic Tourist Board reveal the total number of foreign visitors rose by 40 percent from 2015 to 2016, with this year’s numbers from January and February already showing a continued growth.
The country's tourism board expects to have a total of two million annual tourists by 2020, compared to just 459,000 in 2010.
According to Bloomberg, any proceeds from a levy rise will go towards the improvement of infrastructure and facilities throughout Iceland.