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16October 2010 Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.netDESTINATION REPORTYou cannot mistake the landscape inIceland for anywhere else. Its naturehas been a powerful attraction forvisitors to the small country in the NorthAtlantic for years. This nature hascertainlyflexed its muscles of late. The newscoverage following the 14 April eruption ofthe dormant Eyjafjallajökull volcanic glacierextended even further round the world thanthe dust cloud. With apologies to OscarWilde, 'The one thing worse than beingtalked about. 'Iceland's tourism industry generatesaround 20 per cent of the country's foreignexchange and has been a fast-growingindustry. International visitor numbersincreased by an average of 7.7 per cent peryear over the last decade, a figure wellahead of the Organisation of European Co-operation and Development average. Before the volcano's eruption, Iceland wasexpecting economic growth for 2010 tocome in at 10 per cent. With the fall of theIcelandic krona in 2008, the country hadbecome much more affordable. The consequences of the eruption affectedboth Europe's climate and economy, with ahigh proportion of flights, to and fromEurope cancelled for six days in a row.Europe saw its highest level of air traveldisruption since the Second World War. The shutdown cost the aviation industryworldwide approximately US$1.7bn, saidDaniel Cellaja, director of air transport ofthe European Commission.Regent Holidays' MD, Ian Neale, saidalthough lots of people cancelled, "it was ashame, as the west and north of the countrywere not affected"."Tour operators tell us that autumn andwinter are looking good [for visitornumbers]," said Sigga Groa Thorarinsdottir,Visit Iceland's UK and Ireland marketingmanager.Tourist arrivals took a 22 per cent dive inApril alone and the Iceland Convention andIncentives Bureau (IC&IB) reports surveysundertaken in Iceland's main marketsshowed interest in the country as a touristdestination dropped amid a huge wave ofcancellations in all sectors of its tourismindustry. Incentive trips were moved or cancelledand congresses and conventions saw animmediate drop in delegate numbers. Thistrend, left undisturbed, would have resultedin a projected decrease of more than100,000 tourists in 2010 alone, accordingto the IC&IB. That's a hefty number for anation of just 320,000 people. What was anticipated to be the best yearever for Icelandic tourism suddenly becamea far away dream; something needed to bedone immediately. The Government, the City of Reykjavík,Promote Iceland and around 80 companiesinvolved in tourism came together tocounter the impression that travelling toIceland was dangerous. They launched aIceland back onthe front footReykjavik is recovering fast from the disastrous volcano eruption in April and is looking to its new 1,800-seat convention centre to herald a new era of international meetings and incentives.Iceland's Blue Lagoon. Harnessing the power of nature for delegate downtime and rejuvenationThe Iceland Convention and IncentivesBureau was established in 1992 and ischarged with marketing Iceland as adestination for conferences, incentivetravel and corporate events on behalf ofits 30 members. It was established in1992 and has now over 30 members. IC&IB is also a first point of contact forinformation on facilities and services,and the organisation of inspection visits. Conference planners can also receiveguide offers and information aboutsuppliers of services for conferences andincentive travel in Iceland.www.icelandconvention.com????