The North West Iceland Tourism Alliance elected Gauja Hlín as chair at its recent AGM.
Gauja is a tourism graduate from Hólar University College, and Manager of the travel agency Seal Travel; a subsidiary of the Icelandic Seal Centre.
We offer Gauja our best wishes in her new role.
The tourist information centre for Hunathing vestra at the Icelandic Seal Centre welcomed 1679 guests during the first three months of 2018. For the same quarter (Q1) in 2017 we welcomed 1958 guests. This is a Year-on-Year (YoY) 14% decrease in visitation.
Number of tickets sold to the museum also decreased in Q1 2018, by 10% YoY.
Decreases in visitation occurred in all 3 months, with January down 17%, February down 16%, and March down 13%. The decrease in visitation is partially explained by bad weather in January and February, as mountain passes to the North were frequently impassable, but this was not the case in March.
Q1 and Q4 is where the fewest visitors come to the centre, so this decrease does not have much significance to our total number of guests for the year – but these numbers may provide an indication of a cooling of the tourism sector in peripheral regions.
At the end of the year, it is time for a little retrospective. In 2017 the Húnaþing vestra Visitor Information Centre here at the Icelandic Seal Centre welcomed a total number of 42,481 guests in 2017. This is an 8% year-on-year (YoY) increase, and represents a significant softening of visitor number growth, as 2016 YoY growth was 44%, and 2015 YoY growth was 35%. In and of itself, a lesser growth in sheer numbers is not particularly concerning, but what is of concern is the 29% YoY decrease in turnover that the Seal Centre experienced last year according to our provisional numbers.
13,417 guests paid to visit our museum, which is a 12% increase YoY, and we are delighted that the number of visitors paying to enter the museum grew faster than the number of guests to the visitor centre – although, it must be noted that the aforementioned decrease in turnover occurred in spite of this increase in museum visits, it is therefore safe to say that in 2017 travellers clutched their purses tightly, when it came to leisure activities and souvenir shopping, at least.
A new interactive exhibit, which uses GPS data from a grey seal pup that Seal Centre scientists tagged in 2016, has openend at the museum. Many guests joined us for the occasion, and the exhibit, designed by Gagarín, went down a storm.
The project is funded by the National Marine Aquarium in the UK, the Regional Development find of North West Iceland, and the municipality of Húnaþingi vestra.
Turnover down 27% in June Year on Year (YoY)
YoY comparison is difficult for the first four months of the year, as the Icelandic Seal Centre had regular and advertised opening hours for the first time during the winter in this winter just passed. As a result, the period of January-April shows a healthy increase in total visitor numbers and turnover. Total visitor number includes guest that only visit the Information Centre, as well as those guests that paid an entry fee to the museum. Total guests in January were 301, in February 438, in March 1,219, and in April total guests were 1,283. The total number of guests for the first four months of 2017 was therefore 3,241, compared to 1,860 for the same period in 2016 – or a 74% increase, during the same period turnover increased by 58%. It is worth reiterating, however, that the opening hours YoY are not comparable and these numbers need to viewed in that context. It is also worth pointing out that the total number of visitors for these 4 months is lower than that for May alone.
Opening hours in May and June are comparable, however.
In May 2017 the total number of guests was 3,312, which is a 1% decrease YoY. During the same period total turnover decreased 17% YoY. Interestingly, the number of guests that paid to enter the museum increased by 6% YoY for the same period, and the museum is therefore a larger part of total turnover than before.
In June 2017 the total number of guests was 6,941, which is a 6% increase compared to 2016. During the same period total turnover decreased 27% YoY. Interestingly, the number of guests that paid to enter the museum increased by 14% YoY for the same period, and the museum is therefore a larger part of total turnover than before.
Entry fees for the museum have not gone up since 2012, products from Icelandic suppliers have remained static in price in ISK YoY, and a stronger Icelandic króna and changes in customs have resulted in products imported by the Seal Centre itself being cheaper this year than last in ISK.