Adventure-seekers on a budget joining a tourism wave in Iceland

Gabriella Marchesi

No one had to look further than their Facebook timeline this summer to see the wondrous and dramatic landscapes of Iceland.

It seemed like everyone was jetting off to explore this once-remote country to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience– including me.

I booked a relatively cheap flight and spent five days traveling the south and west regions– hiking, snorkeling and bathing in hot springs.

It was a life-changing experience; the mountains humbled me, and the waterfalls amazed me.

Almost every site we visited, though beautiful and majestic, was overrun with hordes of other tourists also looking to be humbled and amazed.

Between 2012 and 2016 tourism’s share of foreign exchange earnings has grown by 15.5%, according to the Icelandic Tourism Board.

Between 2014 and 2015, revenue from foreign tourists increased by $65.9 billion– a 33.4% increase in just one year.

It’s no coincidence that everyone is heading off to vacation in Iceland right now.

Is it the call of the wild that is luring large amounts of tourists to the mountains and hot springs of Iceland?

Could very well be. I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say that a five-day vacation hiking, snorkeling and camping is more appealing than one spent lounging on the beach.

According to Travel Weekly, a recent study shows that adventure travel has been growing 65 percent every year since 2009. It is now a $263 billion industry.

Unsurprisingly, the study also found that the age of these adventure travelers also tend to skew younger– the average traveler is 36 years old.

This huge boom in tourism can also be attributed to relatively low airfares, especially on WOW Airline; you can book a ticket for as low at $99.99 depending on departure date and city.

People are tapping into the wanderlust of the young adventurers of the world. In 2012, Skuli Mogense founded WOW Air, an airline that boasts cheap fares.

For example, if you were to book a ticket to Iceland leaving on Friday September 8, 2017 from Boston Logan Airport, returning the following Saturday, the ticket would cost you $280 on WOW Air, compared to $813 on Icelandair and $1,224 on JetBlue. The success of this airline gave the Icelandic tour- ism industry an even greater boost.

However, not all of Iceland is overrun with other thrifty, young adventure seekers.

I travelled to the West-fjords region of Iceland on my last day; according to a study done by the Icelandic Tourism Board, as of June 2017 only 20 percent of tourists to Iceland visited this region compared to 96 percent in the capital city of Reykjavik.

I drove on long, gravel roads that spiraled up and down the mountainous terrain.

Despite the vast numbers of people flocking to Iceland, one can still find their own, untrampled piece of heaven– I sure did.