Currency falls, tourism grows in Iceland

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The Independent Online

Iceland flag-carrier Icelandair has reported that it has seen a boost in foreign sales over the past year, providing another signal that the country's woes may be coming to an end.

The airline says that the weakness in the Icelandic Kronur currency, caused by the country's financial meltdown during 2009, has made Iceland an attractive destination for travelers looking for a bargain. The collapse of Iceland's financial system has prompted an ongoing diplomatic row with the British and Dutch governments.

Undeterred, Icelandair added a further 3 percent capacity to its flight schedules last week, which are already up 10 percent from the year before. Additional flights to Amsterdam are now available, as well as Seattle, New York, Paris and Helsinki.

"We have been able to communicate the fact that this is the best time to visit Iceland," said Birkir Holm Gudnason, CEO of Icelandair. "As a visitor, you simply get more for your money than ever before."

Tourism in Iceland has grown steadily since 2003, according to official figures. By 2020, the number of tourists is expected to have more than doubled to 1.2 million per year if current growth rates continue.

Iceland was recently named the best developed country in the world for its approach to sustainable adventure tourism by the Adventure Tourism Development Index. Authors said that diversity in the geographical landscape including glaciers, fjords, geysers, waterfalls, hot springs, and lakes was one of the major attractions for  visitors.