ICELAND – The Eyjafjallajokull
sub-glacial volcanic eruption in Iceland stopped this past Sunday – at least for now. Tour operators in Iceland hope for a swift return of international visitors to Iceland.
“The eruption has certainly affected our business like everyone else’s in the travel industry,” said Ursula Spitzbart, owner of Reykjavik Bike Tours. “Although the eruption never posed [a] direct threat to people, it caused much inconvenience to travelers whose flights were cancelled or diverted. Local farmers and livestock suffered for a few days in the midst of ash.”
Government statistics revealed more than a 20 percent drop in visitor numbers in April of this year compared to the same month last year. This grave situation prompted government and industry leaders to pool resources to promote the country abroad to the tune of US$5.4 million.
A new marketing campaign is being launched under the name, “Inspired by Iceland,” drawing, among other things, on candid video clips made for Internet use featuring actor Viggo Mortensen, author David Byrne, travel show host Steven Fry, and musician Eric Clapton, to name a few.
Volcanologists are reluctant to write the eruptions’ death certificate just yet even though there are no scientific signs that the mountain might continue erupting. Mt. Eyjafjallajokull’s last eruption took place in 1821. Back then it went on for two years with intermittent brakes.
Farmers in the affected area are busy catching up on spring and early summer chores, many of whom also offer accommodation to tourists.