Iceland Tourism: Pancakes With the President?

If you have interest in pancakes with a president, sushi with a mayor, or a footbath with a government minister, this may be the time to make a trip to Iceland.

Iceland with Háteigskirkja Lutheran Church and mount Esja in distance.
Andrew Holt | Getty Images
Iceland with Háteigskirkja Lutheran Church and mount Esja in distance.

They're a few things planned for visitors to the nation of 318,000 this year.

A massive volcanic ash cloud disrupted air travel to, from and around Iceland last year. The country was also hit especially hard by the financial crisis that began in 2008, seeing the collapse of its three largest banks. The International Monetary Fund extended a $2.1 billion loan to Iceland in 2008.

The campaign, named "Inspired by Iceland" is being advocated by the President Ólafur Grímsson and continues the theme of involving Icelanders, focusing this time on bringing tourists to Iceland in winter.

A large number of local residents and politicians in Iceland have opened their houses for tourists to come and visit Iceland this year.

“We want visitors to our country to become Icelanders, to ‘be Icelandic.’ The ash cloud last year made us think really hard about what coming to Iceland meant," said Katrín Júlíusdóttir, minister for tourism.

Iceland’s Tourism Industry

Tourism accounts for 18.8 percent of total export revenue and 5 percent of Iceland’s total gross national product.

The campaign started on Oct. 10 and is a continuation of the international "Inspired by Iceland" campaign that's credited with turning around the country’s tourism industry following the ash cloud last year.

It has brought an additional £136.46 million ($218.3 million) into the Icelandic economy. Though the country's tourist industry was expected to contract by about a fifth this year, Iceland instead has posted "double-digit growth," a spokesperson said.