Little to report from the Grímsvötn eruption site this morning

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There is little to report from the Grímsvötn eruption site this morning. The volcano shows little activity, occasional bursts of steam have been reported. Geologists say it is too soon to declare the eruption officially over, and caution that going too close to the eruption site can be dangerous.

Roads are open in the area, and clean-up efforts are going well.

South Iceland Emerges From the Ashes

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Clean-up operations following the eruption in Grímsvötn are well under way. Most of the ejected ash fell in a small area South and Southeast of the volcano, but locals expect to be able to resume life as usual in a matter of days. 

Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, Katrin Juliusdottir, has extended a hand in the clean-up effort, quite literally, as she and her staff, headed out to the affected area this morning to partake in the operation. “There is only so much the government can do from Reykjavik,” Juliusdottir said. “It is very clear that what is really needed right now is people on the scene, helping to clean up – so that is exactly what we’ve decided to do. We are used to dealing with this kind of situation here in Iceland, and there is a overwhelming support from around the country.”

Roads in the area are once a again open for traffic, but as a safety measure, the roads had been closed since Sunday. It is not yet safe to approach the crater, but tour operators are already making plans to provide tours of the area. Eyjafjallajökull, the site of the 2010 eruption, is one of the most popular tours on offer today and an Eyjafjallajokull museum opened on the eruption’s first anniversary.

The Grímsvötn volcano is located with-in the Vatnajökull National Park – the biggest national park in Europe. “The situation is much better than we anticipated. It was completely black with ash here on Sunday, but now the colour is coming back into the forest and the birds have started to sing,” Gudmundur Ogmundsson, a ranger at the national park.

Grímsvötn volcano has been showing little signs of life recently, and scientists believe the eruption has come to an end, although it can not be declared officially over just yet. Nevertheless, Iceland is open for business.

 

Arnaldur Indriðason Crime Story Tour

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Reykjavík City Library offers a literary bus tour that focuses on the crime novels of local writer Arnaldur Indriðason.
He is without a doubt the most popular crime writer in Iceland and his books have been translated into numerous
languages. Indriðason has won several international awards for his work, the Golden Dagger being one of them.

The guided tour focuses on his series about investigator Erlendur Sveinsson and his team. Several sites that play
a role in the novels are visited and participants learn about the connection of place and text, hear short excerpts
from the novels and get to know a different side of Reykjavík. Guests stroll into the neighbourhood depicted in Jar City
where parts of the film based on the book were also shot, see the site where some old bones and a well-kept story
are dug up in Silence of the Grave – and much more.

The tour takes about two hours, ending at a local hotel depicted in two of Indriðason’s novels. A refreshment at the
hotel buffet or bar, as Erlendur enjoys in Voices, is optional.

Booking and further information: Kristín Viðarsdóttir, [email protected]

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon Is White Gold

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Health tourism spells great opportunity for Iceland

“Geothermal water is Iceland‘s white gold,” according to guest speaker Ms. Csilla Mezösi speaking at the annual meeting of the Iceland Association for Health Tourism. Ms Mezösi is a consultant for health tourism at the Hungarian Tourism Board and a board member of the European Spa Association.

Iceland’s most famous commercial spa is the Blue Lagoon, which is visited by more than 400,000 people annually. Myvatn Nature Baths can be described as a newer but much smaller version of the same. Fontana Steam Bath capitalizes on a natural steam vent next to Laugarvatn Lake and is scheduled to open this summer.

Mezösi believes Iceland’s abundant supply of geothermal energy provides the opportunity for the development of health tourism, which is still in its infancy in Iceland. “Iceland has barely started tapping into this genre of tourism,” she said, and pointed out the lack of information on the number of tourists who actually visit Iceland with the purpose of improving their health.

Mezösi complimented Reykjavik’s public geothermal swimming pools for their quality and cleanliness and pointed out some opportunities, such as: build hotels next to the pools for greater convenience for foreign visitors; organize dance parties in the thermal pools in winter to attract young tourists in the low season; and finally, get the Olympic handball team medalists to promote health tourism in Iceland.

Health tourism incorporates both spa tourism, as well as medical tourism. “However, a typical spa tourist focuses on different things than a medical tourist. Spa tourism involves a holiday whereas medical tourism involves cost-effective operations but more importantly guarantee of a follow-up service after the treatment.”

Medical tourism in Hungary is big business. “German pensioners, as well as British, Norwegian, and Danish, are most likely to enjoy the benefit of high-quality dental treatment and various operations in Hungary for less money than what they’d spend in their home country. The medical tourism product in Hungary has evolved to such an extent that it is now possible for foreign tourists to receive a door-to-door service including accommodation and activities for the duration of their stay in Hungary.”

Mezösi also mentioned that there are 4,000 foreign medical students studying in Hungary. “Our goal is to involve these students in medical and balneology research in order to learn more about the healing powers of geothermal water, thus benefiting the medical tourism industry.”

The Hungarian government actively promotes medical tourism. It also spends money on marketing medical tourism which Mezösi thinks is a good idea. “Whatever money the government spends it gets back several times,” Mezösi said.

Medical tourism has been made possible in Europe due to an EU law which makes it possible for European Union (EU) patients to receive treatment in any other member state such as Hungary and still get reimbursed by their medical insurance,” Mezösi explained.

Reykjavik Art Festival – May 20th – June 5th 2011

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Established in 1970, this is Iceland’s premier cultural festival, bringing together the best
in local and international theatre, dance, music and visual art. The programme offers
a variety of curated exhibitions, concerts, dance, theatre and opera performances. *
Along with its focus on Icelandic culture past and present, the festival hosts many
outstanding international artists and performers.

Iceland Ranks at Top of 2010 Environmental Performance Index

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Iceland leads the world in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges, according to the 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by a team of environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University. This is the third edition of the EPI, which has been revisited biannually since 2006.

Presented at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010, the EPI ranks 163 countries on their performance across 25 metrics aggregated into ten categories including: environmental health, air quality, water resource management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and climate change.

Iceland’s top-notch performance derives from its high scores on environmental public health, controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and reforestation. Other top performers include Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway – all of which have made substantial investments in environmental infrastructure, pollution control, and policies designed to move toward long-term sustainability.

Iceland receives ICCA Best Marketing Award

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The Inspired by Iceland campaign and the Iceland Convention & Incentive Bureau (ICIB) are presented with the ICCA Best Marketing Award in Hyderabad, India on 27 October 2010.

The aftermath of the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull glacier and the ash clouds that followed are well known in the Meeting industry. But with a wave of cancellations across all sectors and what looked to be a catastrophic summer for tourism in Iceland, the real threat that emerged became the potential long-term consequences for the country’s tourism industry as a whole.

During the recent ICCA conference in Hyderabad, these challenges and the action taken by the Icelandic government, the city of Reykjavík and about 80 tourism-related companies where outlined, which resulted in the incredibly successful “Inspired by Iceland” marketing campaign. The campaign included e.g. Iceland Hour where 1/3 of the Iceland´s population participated in telling people that there has never been a better time to visit.

Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA, commented on his organisation’s award: “This year’s BMA competition was as tough as we’ve ever seen, and once more we’ve got a very worthy winner!  The ICCA Best Marketing Award doesn’t exist simply to reward excellent work: it’s there to recognise the most unique and brilliant marketing concepts that our industry can create. Turning a disaster like the volcanic eruption into such a positive result, harnessing the power of a whole nation in a way we’ve never seen before, is a fantastic and inspiring marketing story.”

The reward is first and foremost an acknowledgement of the work achieved after the eruption started.  It will help those involved in the country’s Meeting industry to showcase one of the key strengths that characterises Iceland as a destination—that as an industry we are quick to adapt and respond to different challenges.

Katrín Júlíusdóttir, Minister of Industry in Iceland, commented: “To see so many people back our campaign has been incredible. We’ve been able to tell the world that Iceland is a country that can inspire anyone who comes here. Receiving the ICCA award for the campaign is therefore a great honour and reward for everyone who has been a part of it.”

For more information on the country’s potential for meetings or incentive trips, visit the Iceland Convention & Incentive Bureau at www.icelandconvention.com and join us on Inspired by Iceland www.inspiredbyiceland.com.

Inspired by Iceland is a joint marketing effort by the Icelandic government, the city of Reykjavík, Icelandair, Iceland Express, Promote Iceland and around 80 tourism-related companies in Iceland.

Photo: Anna Valdimarsdóttir, managing director of Iceland Convention & Incentive Bureau (center) received the award.

Official first day of winter celebrated

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Last Saturday Icelanders celebrated the official first day of winter. Iceland is a country for all seasons and winter is an exciting time to visit the land of ice and fire.

Winter in Iceland is the time of amazing contrasts. Peaceful white snow accentuates the black lava fields, resulting in magical artistry. In the evening the blackness of the sky may be suddenly disturbed by dancing, flickering veils of light, in green, white or red, for the northern lights are often visible in cold, clear weather. You could well imagine that the snowstorms and winds that sometimes sweep over the country are vying for some great prize, but they always lose their battle: after a while everything returns to stillness and tranquility, and the land is pristine, as if just reborn. Winter is a great time for cross-country skiing and you don’t need to go far from Reykjavík to find yourself surrounded by scenic landscapes and tremendous views.

Iceland Airwaves 2010

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It’s 4 a.m. You’ve been tofiive cool clubs, seen ten great bands, made fifteen new friends and fallen in love twenty times. You’re tired. You’re wired. You’re ready to find a bed. You’re ready to find the after-party. You can’t believe you’re here. You’re already making plans to come back next year. And guess what? It’s still Day One. Iceland Airwaves 2010 vill be held October 13-17.

Since the first edition was held in 1999 (in an airplane hangar), Iceland Airwaves has become one of the premier annual showcases for new music – Icelandic and otherwise – in the world. It’s made a heap of friends and won many fans along the way, and been lavished with praise pretty much everywhere they write about music. Example: Rolling Stone magazine called it “The hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar.”

Some of the world’s most exciting artists have performed there, too. The Shins, The Rapture, TV On The Radio, Florence and the Machine, Klaxons, Hot Chip, Flaming Lips, Wolf Parade, Bloc Party and Fatboy Slim have made the short hop from Europe or North America to share the stages with Iceland’s finest talents, including bands such as Sigur Rós, FM Belfast, GusGus, múm, Singapore Sling and Dr Spock, to name but a few. And when the live bands have done their thing, top DJs from all over the world spin across the city until the crack of dawn.

But there’s more to Airwaves than music. Reykjavík is quite possibly the perfect festival city – small enough to be welcoming, sophisticated enough to offer cultural, historical and nightlife diversions to rival cities ten times its size. Maybe twenty. Who knows? And it’s surrounded by some of the most unique and astonishing natural beauty you’re ever likely to see (this is a grand statement, but you should just see it).

Roll out of bed, hose the party remains out of your hair and hop on a bus. Before you can remember what you did the night before, you’re looking at geysers, waterfalls, lava fields – all the best that a volcanic island has to offer, including the world-famous Blue Lagoon, favorite soaking spot of the international hung-over glitterati. Mmm! You can really taste the hipster!

Yoko celebrates Lennon’s 70th birthday in Reykjavik

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Legendary artist, musician and peace advocate, YOKO ONO, will be holding several events in Reykjavík, Iceland on October 9th to promote peace throughout the world and to celebrate what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

The Lennon Ono Grant for Peace was created to honor her late husband John Lennon’s dedication to peace and commitment to the preservation of human rights. Created in 2002, this biennial award has always been given to two recipients. To mark this special anniversary year, Yoko Ono will be presenting this award to four recipients who have been selected based on their courage and commitment to peace, truth and human rights.