An arrival tax could be levied on all flights to Iceland, including domestic flights. The measure is one of several proposals being considered by the Icelandic government as it deals with soaring tourist numbers, reports Iceland Monitor. Money raised by the levy would fund the development and maintenance of tourist sights.
The plan was initially for the tax to only be applied to international flights, but under European non-discrimination laws it would have to be applied to all air passengers. While Iceland is not a large country, travel distances can be significant, and travelling by air to the likes of Akureyri and Egilsstaðir opens up large areas of North and East Iceland to visitors who might otherwise struggle to fit them into their trips.
Tourism in the country has increased dramatically in recent years, with the number of foreign visitors rising around 20% every year since 2015. Most visitors come from the UK, the US and Germany, tempted by the glaciers, volcanoes and fjords that define the country’s wilderness. A survey taken earlier this year found that almost half of tourists visiting Iceland would be prepared to pay an arrival tax, with most suggesting the charge be set at €5–10. The news comes as proposals were drawn up for new visitor facilities at Landmannalaugar, a popular geothermal area in Iceland’s Highlands. Over 130,000 tourists now visit annually, but facilities are limited. The new visitor centre would have changing rooms, toilets, picnicking facilities, a campsite and a car park.