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Iceland volcano leads to eruption of tourists

Iceland volcano leads to eruption of tourists (Forimmediaterelease.net) LOOKING BACK AT 2010, ERUPTION RESULTS IN 16 PERCENT INCREASE IN TOURISM FROM NORTH AMERICA

REYKJAVIK – Iceland tourism officials wouldn’t wish a volcanic eruption on any country, but while the world-famous (and virtually unpronounceable) Eyjafjallajokull volcano created misery for millions of travelers, it resulted in a 16 percent increase in tourism from North America to the island nation for the first 11 months of 2010, versus the same period last year.

For a while there last April, it seemed as if Iceland was about to slip into the sea. Some farmers were displaced by the floods and ash, and Keflavik International Airport near the capital city was closed for a few days when the wind shifted west – a mild inconvenience compared to the headaches the eruption caused to flight operations in Western Europe.

As the lava cooled and the volcano simmered down, tourists started to arrive.
So-called volcano tours began as enterprising Icelanders offered guided excursions to view the volcano and the few ash-filled valleys below. By summer, visits to the volcano rivaled attendance at the country’s other best-known attraction, the famed Blue Lagoon spa ( www.bluelagoon.com ). Even ABC-TV’s bachelorette, Ali Fedotowsky, was helicoptered above the heat and smoke to view the immense power of Eyjafjallajokull during an episode of The Bachelorette that aired June 21.

“The eruption became our best advertising,” said Einar Gustavsson, the New York-based Tourism Director for Iceland in North America. “There wasn’t a daily newspaper on Earth that didn’t cover the story. Google reported 16,000 stories in a single day, and even a Saturday Night Live skit imagined Bjork singing to Eyjafjallajökull to calm it down.”

According to Mr. Gustavsson, “Travel in 2011 from North America is expected to be up 20 percent over 2010, helped in part by Delta ( www.delta.com ), which launches new service in spring 2011. The US carrier becomes the third airline to serve the country, adding seats to those already provided by Icelandair ( www.icelandair.com ) and Iceland Express ( www.icelandexpress.com ).”

Since the volcano, farmers report that the dark color of the ash seemed to be heating the soil more, speeding up growth, and causing the cornfields to be extremely productive. The country’s economic crisis has simmered down, and visitors now receive 116 kroner to the dollar, almost twice the kroners they received just two years ago.

Today, the average visitor sees little evidence of the volcano, except for the small bottles of volcanic ash being sold in gift shops throughout the country. Tourists can purchase souvenir bottles on www.NordicStore.com for US$31.90 while supplies last (which, honestly, could be a long time from now).

To keep an eye on Iceland’s famous volcano from the safety of a laptop, log onto the hugely popular volcano webcams at www.mila.is (click “English” in the upper right corner). For information on travel to Iceland, or to download or request a free brochure and DVD, log onto www.goiceland.org .

Einar Gustavsson Promote Iceland Phone: 212 885 9786 Email: iceinar@goiceland.org Jeff Blumenfeld Blumenfeld and Assoc. PR Phone: 203 655 1600 Email: jeff@blumenfeldpr.com

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