Iceland tourism 2015 in 5 charts: Where’d the off-season go?

The Icelandic Tourist Board publishes very nice data on how many people flew into Keflavik Airport. And since nearly everyone going to Iceland gets there via Keflavik, this shows a very accurate view of travel and tourism to Iceland. (We’ll ignore the people who take a ferry from Denmark.) Data from 2015 was just published, so let’s take a look at tourism in Iceland in 2015.

Iceland Tourism 2015 in 5 charts

1. Tourism overall is exploding in Iceland.

Total visitors by year, through 2015:

iceland total tourism

Just over 1.25 million people headed to Iceland in 2015, the first year visitors have surpassed the million mark. That’s a 30% increase from 2014, and more than triple the number from 2006.

2. The off-season months in Iceland are much less “off “than they used to be.

Total visitors by month, through December 2015:

iceland by month

Of course, there are still many more people visiting in the summer months; August is the highest month in each year in the chart above, though sometimes July comes very close.

But there were 70,857 visitors in December 2015. That’s 32% higher than December 2014, and it’s HIGHER than August of 2006! Every single month in 2016 should see more visitors to Iceland than the peak month in 2006.

3. The most visitors to Iceland in 2015 were from the United States

Going back to 2004, the country with the most visitors to Iceland has always either been the UK or the US. In 2015, the US took the title back (barely), after the UK had it for 3 years.

us vs uk

4. The UK dominates the off-season (October through April)

Total visitors from named countries during off-season months in 2015:

off season

During off-season months in 2015, more than 175,000 people visited from the United Kingdom. So here, we are adding up numbers from January – April 2015 and October – December 2015. That 175,000 was more than twice the number of visitors from any other country!

5. The US dominates the peak tourism season (May through September)

Total visitors from named countries during peak tourism months in 2015:

summer season

From May – September 2015, over 155,000 people visited Iceland from the United States. That’s again more than double any other country’s total during the same period. That means that more than 20% of the 721,000 peak season visitors to Iceland came from the United States.

Note that most (nearly 70%) of those visitors from the United States from May through September travel in June, July, or August, which are the main summer vacation travel months.  We think a lot of this “summer surge” from the US may be driven by families taking summer vacations; hence the theme of this web site! But this data doesn’t explicitly confirm or deny that theory.

What do you think? What else would be interesting to look at in these datasets?

Iceland tourism 2015 in 5 charts: Where’d the off-season go? was last modified: June 22nd, 2016 by Eric