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Iceland Mag

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84% of Icelanders are either positive or neutral toward growing tourism

By Staff

  • Agents of change Growing tourism has transformed downtown Reykjavík and generated rapid growth and created new jobs, but some fear its effects on nature and the housing market in Reykjavík. Photo/Ernir.

Just 16% of Icelanders are unhappy about the growing number of foreign travellers, a new poll shows (pdf). Only 4.4% said they were "very unhappy" about growing tourism. 13.1% said they were "very pleased", 31.7% said they were somewhat pleased and 39.2% said they were neutral. Inhabitants of areas most affected by tourism are more likely to be positive toward growing tourism than those who live in areas less impacted.

Read more: Overwhelming majority of Reykjavík locals continues to be positive toward growing tourism

The poll revealed that older people were more likely to view growing tourism positively, with those older than 65 being most positive. Some commentators have pointed out that older people remember what Iceland looked like before tourism began and how tourism has breathed new life into downtown Reykjavík.

Positive views of tourism were also positively correlated with higher incomes and higher education levels. Men were more likely than women to be pleased with growing tourism. Positive views of tourism are also more pronounced in areas which have seen the greatest increase, Reykjavík, the Reykjanes peninsula and South Iceland. 

Worries about tourism's effect on housing market
The poll reveals that the negative effects of tourism Icelanders seem to be most concerned about are the effect on the road system, nature and the housing market. 81-85% said they were worried about the negative impact growing tourism might have on these. The shortage of hotels has created a booming market for airbnbs, which in turn has reduced the supply of rental housing, thus pushing up rents. 

Read more: Iceland led the global real estate price increases in 2016

Another effect of growing demand for airbnbs and the rapid economic growth generated by a booming tourism industry has helped raise property prices in Reykjavík. Many fear low income people are being priced out of both the property and rental markets in Reykjavík.

Some support for limits on number of visitors
The poll also asked people about their view on limits on the number of foreign visitors. 47% said they would support limits on the annual number of visitors allowed to visit Iceland, while ca 30% were opposed to such limits. 

Interestingly support for limits on the number of foreign visitors is greatest in some of the same groups which are more positive toward the growth which has already taken place: Older people and those living in Reykjavík and South Iceland are more supportive of restrictions than younger people and people living in areas where tourism has had less impact.

 

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