Rapid growth Tourism as a share of the GDP of Iceland 2009-2016. Image/Statistics Iceland
Since taking off in 2010 tourism has more than doubled its share of the Icelandic economy. According to the latest revised figures from Statistics Iceland tourism generated 3.4% of Iceland's GDP in 2010, the last year before the industry took off. In 2016, the most recent figures provided by Statistics Iceland, tourism generated 8.1% of Iceland's GDP. Previous estimates had put the share somewhat higher, at 8.4%.
Tourism has grown in importance since the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption. In 2014 tourism amounted to 5.2% of GDP and 6.2% in 2015. Unofficial estimates for 2017 suggest tourism generated some 10% of GDP that year. Statistics Iceland will release its preliminary figures for 2017 on July 20.
In total there were 2,146,273 inbound foreign visits to Iceland in 2016, an increase of 35.2% from 2015. The largest increase was in the number of overnight visits or 39%, while same day visits, typically by cruise line passengers, increased by 18.9% year over year. The increase in the number of overnight stays at hotels was 21.6% which is a considerably less increase than in the number of visits. The difference can be explained by a variety of factors. The largest being that each traveler in 2016 spent less time than in 2015. An increase in the use of unregistered accommodation, RVs and camper vans is a second possible explanation.