Travel And Tour World: Share with us about the MICE tourism opportunity in Reykjavík.
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: Reykjavik is inspiring and gives our visitors long-lived memories with a touch of indescribable magic. Reykjavik is a safe and relaxed European city that offers accessibility and convenience, our venues and hotels are mostly situated within or around the city center and can be traveled to and forth by foot. In addition to our solid logistical offerings, our city is surrounded by unforgettable nature, an asset that can only be experienced and not described. There aren’t many places in the city where you’re not greeted by the ocean, mountains, or rugged fields.
Travel And Tour World: In post COVID -19 situation, how Meet in Reykjavík, the official convention bureau for Reykjavík city is planning and implementing its strategies to attract more MICE travellers
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: We do recognize that the recovery after the pandemic is going to take time and patience. It is going to be years until business travel will be at the same level as 2019. When the infection rate slows down, we need to focus on building confidence. There is an increasing demand for virtual & hybrid events and I’m sure that trend will continue for years to come. Reykjavík is well equipped to adapt to the changes required in the post-COVID-19 world. Iceland is a high-tech nation, and all the main venues have state-of-the-art software and broadcast technology. We have the know-how and the experience needed to be at the front line of this exciting change in the industry.
That being said, I don’t think virtual or hybrid meetings will replace live events. What business events are all about is the engagement and physical interaction between delegates. That is what companies and associations are looking for when they host an event. We believe that security and sustainability will weigh more in the buyers’ decision making in the post-COVID-19 area. That is where our competitive advantage is.
Iceland is the safest place on earth, according to the global peace index. Iceland is a world leader in sustainable energy development. Reykjavík gets 100% of its electricity and heat from domestically produced renewable energy sources. Making it one of the world’s greenest cities, and the capital is five years into its plan of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
Travel And Tour World: How Meet in Reykjavík, Promote Iceland and Icelandair are working to lure more tourists of all kinds.
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: We have used the last few months to prepare for what comes next, be creative and collaborative, reorganize, and learn from this situation. Promote Iceland is planning a thoughtful and thorough marketing campaign that is intended to launch at the appropriate time. Hopefully, sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we all try to share stories of our destination and remind everyone there is something to look forward to once the world opens up.
Travel And Tour World: Recently, Meet in Reykjavík has joined the forces with Promote Iceland to strengthen the promotion of the country. Please tell us about its planning and how you are working.
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: Our mission, of course, remains the same. To help MICE-planners create unforgettable events in a one-of-a-kind destination. By joining forces with Promote Iceland, we will have better access to their collective Knowledge, their influence within all the major industries in Iceland. We’ll have access to their PR and advertising resources, and we can work closely with them on including the business event industry in the promotion of Iceland as a tourism destination.
Travel And Tour World: In post COVID-19 situation, how Meet in Reykjavík is monitoring country’s convention centres in maintaining the health guidelines and protocols.
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: Safety guidelines have been issued for all venues, hotels, and restaurants in Iceland. The guidelines include strict personal hygiene rules, such as frequent handwashing, sanitation, use of masks, and social distancing between people. Everyone within the tourism industry in Iceland is working closely together and going beyond what is necessary to keep people safe.
Meet in Reykjavík has an open dialog with Icelandic health authorities to make sure that when international events are possible in Iceland again, we’ll be ready.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us on how Meet in Reykjavík is wheeling up the sustainability practices and operational efficiency for Iceland’s business travel
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: Like I mention here above, Iceland has a lot to offer environmentally conscious MICE professionals. In addition to being a leader in sustainable energy development. Iceland is also well known for its responsible fisheries, sustainable sheep farming practices, and vegetables and fruits grown in geothermal greenhouses, making it very easy for restaurants and caterers to offer locally sourced and sustainable food.
Sustainability is a moving target, so, what we are doing with our industry partners is constantly asking ourselves how we can up our sustainable service offering and how we can tribute to solving the climate crisis.
Travel And Tour World: Elaborate us the estimate about the loss Iceland had make due to this deadly virus spreading
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: Well, that is a difficult question to answer. About 62% of the international events that were planned in Iceland from Mars to December this year have been postponed. Roughly 13% have been canceled, and 12% have moved online. There are still few live events scheduled later this year, but they are all evaluating their options. We are of course happy that the majority of our clients are choosing to postpone their events and we as well as the hotels and venues do what we can to find new suitable dates for them. It has worked out well so far. But what makes this difficult is that we don’t know when this situation is going to end.
Travel And Tour World: Did you receive any governmental help in steering up the industry income?
Sigurður Valur Sigurðsson: The Icelandic government has implemented multiple plans to provide temporary relief to the travel and hospitality industry in general. That includes a program aimed to preserve jobs within the industry.