This summer, Rannís is supporting a market survey to identify which services could be adapted for innovative companies as well as which ones need to be incorporated as the companies grow. This survey is addressed to anyone running a business or an NGO in Iceland.

Majestic glaciers, mesmerising volcanoes and barren highlands are the landmarks of Iceland advertised around the world. Now Icelandic landscapes are on most travellers’ bucket list. However, the tiny island in the Arctic off the beaten track became the major tourist destination it is today within only 15 years. This growing enthusiasm created many business opportunities and a myriad of small companies bloomed in Icelandic tourism until it became as important as the fishing industry.

A strong culture of service emerged, mostly focused on tourists, participating in this fast  growth industry and quickly put Iceland on the map. These services developed during the tourism boom created a rich environment with skilled people available for the next phase.

On at the big picture Iceland’s economy has many peculiar results, among them a very high number of companies per capita (about twice as much as European countries)*, and a low percentage of services in GDP (73% against 80% in the US and UK)**. The latest is surprising from a country where tourism plays an important part in the economy while the former confirms the weight of small and medium sized companies.

Lately a strong trend is developing in the land of fire and ice, based on innovation and sustainability. Several success stories already made it to international headlines and foretell a promising future for Icelandic startups. This is where the skills and services available for the boom of tourism could be adapted and re-used to support and accelerate this next development.

As surely as the quality of service put the Icelandic landscape on the map, it would highlight the Icelandic innovation and tremendously accelerate its growth, based on the experience gained in tourism.

Written by Marianne Ribes

* source: eurostat

** source: OECD