The newly founded IcelandTravelWorkshop—an extremely well organized, casual and convivial meeting of travel professionals from both inside and outside the country—took place in Reykjavik on May 17.
Coordinated by the team of Thora Gudmundsdottir, Thorunn Reynisdottir, and Guðný Pálsdóttir, the workshop featured a panel of travel luminaries, including Ólöf Yr Atladóttir, Director General of the Icelandic Tourist Board; Debbie Maier, President of MailPound, a web-based marketing support provider; and Christine Coleman of Altour, one of the largest agencies serving the luxury and mid-markets internationally. The panelists fielded questions from the audience and offered suggestions about a wide variety of ways in which Iceland can increase its level of tourism more effectively making known the panoply of places to see and things to do in this country of “Fire and Ice,” where extreme opposites—including some of Europe’s biggest glaciers and some of the continent’s hottest volcanic springs—can be found almost side by side, occasionally only several miles apart. A wide variety of unusual animals, ranging from birds such as the lethal gyrfalcon to the comic, clown-billed puffin, are but one (very prominent) part of life in an occasionally desolate—but always stunning—landscape.
Numerous participants in the workshop included merchants ranging from those offering whale watches, hotel accommodations, year-round cultural attractions, and guides to a wide variety of restaurants throughout the entire country. In particular, the workshop focused on the quality, professionalism and environmental awareness in Iceland tourism, since the country is already 90% green, with nearly all its hot-water supply coming down through the earth from volcanic craters and geysers. Its cold water—some of the purest in the world—has the highest renewable fresh water availability per person in Europe. For eco-minded tourists, Iceland provides a green attraction unmatched by almost any other country in Europe.