Iceland is… Björk, right (or The Sugarcubes if you are of a certain age)? Then what? Well, hot spring lagoons, a general party spirit, thunderclaps (you have to love their national football team), glaciers, the Northern Lights and volcanoes, especially that one we can’t pronounce (have a go – Eyjafjallajökull). What else…? Any why would you fly to Reykjavík for a culture/social short break instead of Copenhagen or Gothenburg or Hamburg or Ghent or Cork or…?
Iceland is a youthful (b. 1944) and energetic nation, including as a tourist destination. Its profile has shot up and it’s almost a victim of its own success. It’s 3/4 the size of England, but with a population closer to that of Wakefield. They take a lead in some really interesting areas of tourism – peace tourism, and environmental tourism spring to mind – but they also have a fabulously rich cultural offer that is less well-known and less well-developed for the international market. They are inventing new ways to work and developing rapidly as a result, and that means that things can get done, innovation embraced, new stuff tried. That’s where we come in.
As part of a research project, supported by NATA (North Atlantic Tourism Association), we are working with the key agencies in Iceland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands, exploring these opportunities, with our Nordic Associate Ingi Thor of Nordic Intercultural Creative Events (NICE). So far, there is plenty of support for more, and smarter cultural tourism development. The sessions and workshops we’ve led have brought us into contact with some wonderful people. The Icelandic strand of Nordic culture derives from its place at the very edge of Europe, and it is arguably the edgiest. Perfect for experience-hungry UK culturally-motivated travellers. We’ll report in full early next year.
Image: Reykvavik – Harpa concert hall