Overnight stays in registered accommodation in 2020 were 3.3 million compared with 8.4 million in 2019. Overnight stays decreased by 70.4% from 2019 in the Capital region and 69.9% in the Southwest region, while the decrease was not as pronounced in other areas. For instance, overnight stays decreased by 29.9% in the Westfjords and by 33.9% in the East region.

Overnight stays in hotels and guesthouses were 2.0 million in 2020, overnight stays in other indoor accommodation were 658,000 and about 617,000 at camping sites.

Registered overnight stays 2020
Hotels and guesthouses Others Campsites
Capital region784,805-71.3%272,266-66.6%7,124-84.7%

Hence, there was a 60.8% decrease in overnight stays from 2019. Thereof, there was a 65.1% decrease in hotels and guesthouses, 61.6% decrease in other indoor accommodation and 31.5% decrease at camping sites.

There was a great decrease in all regions and types of accommodation except for camping sites in the East region where there were 98,500 overnight stays in 2020, which was a 10.9% increase from 1019 when they were 88,800.

Due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions, a greater part of overnight stays was due to domestic travellers than in previous years, or 44.5%. Overnight stays of Icelandic travellers were 1.5 million which is a 34.7% increase from the previous year, whereas overnight stays of foreign travellers decreased by 75% to 1.8 million.

The first Covid-19 related restrictions where introduced in Iceland in the middle of March 2020 and the effects of the pandemic are quite clear when overnight stays are observed month by month. January and February followed a similar pattern to the previous period, whereas there is a sharp 54.6% decrease in March followed by an even greater decrease in the number of foreign travellers. Overnight stays of foreign tourists decreased by 90-97% each month, apart from a 70-75% decrease in the months of July and August. On the other hand, there was an increase in domestic overnight stays from the previous year due to increase during the period June-September.

Registered overnight stays by month
 Total  Icelanders  Foreign visitors  

During the first quarter of 2020 (January-March), the estimated number of foreign overnight stays in private home accommodation through peer-to-peer websites was around 175,000, which was a 51% decrease from the first quarter of 2019 when they were around 356,000. The number of overnight stays of foreign travellers in private home accommodation through peer-to-peer websites was estimated from the Border Survey carried out by Statistics Iceland and the Icelandic Tourist Board. In March, a sudden decrease in departures made data gathering for the survey impossible, which led to a temporary discontinuation of the survey in September. Therefore, the estimated number of overnight stays of foreigners in home accommodation through peer-to-peer websites is not included in the previous numbers of registered overnight stays.

Experimental statistics and travel survey
A year ago, Statistics Iceland started an experimental statistics project with a monthly publication of a temporary estimate of the number of overnight stays in hotels in the previous month, based on numbers from early responders. This estimate is usually published in the first 10 days of the following month. This publication is projected to continue during this year.

Statistics Iceland has started collecting data for a travel survey with the intent of gathering information on both domestic and foreign travels of people with residence in Iceland. The first results from this survey are projected to be published later this year.


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