Icelandic President Announces Plan to Invite Tourists Into Icelanders' Homes

The President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, recently made a speech where he outlined his campaign to invite tourists into his own home and encouraged other Icelandic citizens to do the same. His goal is for visitors to become official Icelanders during their stays, and experience the real Iceland with his people as the hosts. The president will be joining many other citizens in showcasing unique experiences that only Iceland can offer. The president’s personal contribution will be inviting tourists into his home for pancakes, whipped cream, and rhubarb jam. The Mayor of Reykjavik and Minister for Tourism, Katrin Juliusdottir, are also participating in the program. This is a continuation of the international Inspired by Iceland campaign that helped improve the country’s tourism industry following the ash cloud last year. It brought an additional GBP 136.46 million into the Icelandic economy.

During the six week campaign in 2010, over a third of the country’s citizens participated by inviting friends and colleagues from abroad to visit Iceland. One third of the country also contributed stories, including celebrities such as Bjork. Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono, and Viggo Mortenson were amongst other celebrities who supported the campaign. The 2011 campaign will focus on bringing tourists to Iceland during the winter and Icelanders helping to promote an industry that is worth 20 percent of export revenue to the island. Many citizens have already volunteered to open their doors to welcome visitors.

Katrin Juliusdottir, minister for tourism, said, “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. We realized it is about the passion that our citizens have for our country and that they want to tell the world how beautiful it is and what an amazing experience it can be. Those thinking of visiting Iceland and wanting a real adventure will love what our people have to offer as they share their lives with them.”

An Icelander who agreed to open his home, Frosti Jonsson, said, “We are very proud to ‘be Icelandic’ and we are very happy to share our way of life and our country’s beauty to adventurers that choose to visit us. We want to make their experiences as real as possible; we want them to ‘be Icelandic’ while they’re here.”

Icelanders can extend invitations to the world through a website set up for the tourist campaign.