Volcano proves a big draw for American tourists

By John Dean - 20 Dec 2010 8:45:0 GMT
Volcano proves a big draw for American tourists

The Icelandic volcano that brought chaos to European air routes earlier this year has had an unexpected benefit - as an attraction for American tourists.

Eyjafjallajokull volcano created misery for millions of travellers, it resulted in a 16 per cent increase in tourism from North America to the island for the first eleven months of 2010, compared with the same period last year.

The eruption swamped farmland with floods and ash, closed Keflavik International Airport near the capital city for several days and disrupted flight operations in Western Europe. However, as the volcano calmed down, tourists, in particular Americans, started to arrive, according to Iceland tourism officials.

Volcano tours began as Icelanders offered guided excursions to view the site. By summer, visits to the volcano rivalled attendance at the country's other well-known attraction, the Blue Lagoon spa.

Einar Gustavsson, the New York-based Tourism Director for Iceland in North America, said: "The eruption became our best advertising. 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 Eyjafjallajokull to calm it down."