Tourist images of Iceland: A regional comparasion of tourism promotional material

Dennis Hermans
Dennis Hermans

The report Tourist images of Iceland: A regional comparasion of tourism promotional material has just been published by ITRC. In the report, the author Dennis Hermans, a Master student at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and an intern at ITRC, reportshis findings on the analysis of the use of images in Icelandic tourism brochures and guidebooks. This study is partly built on an earlier research on tourism material in North-Iceland published in 2011 by the ITRC. The focus of the subsequent study, however, is both on national and regional tourism promotional material as well as material issued by tourism companies.

Following are some of the key results of the Tourist images of Iceland report:

  • Tourism brochures in North Iceland continue, although less apparent than in 2011, to be dominated by images of nature, tourism infrastructure and activities. A comparative analysis showed that this is especially the case within commercial sources, while noncommercial sources have more room for urban and rural landscapes, cultural heritage and people.
  • A large majority of images in The Official Tourist Guide of North Iceland are pictures of nature, often without human presence, which is in line with the most important reason for tourists to visit Iceland.
  • The tendency to depict women as ´decorative addition´ in settings like bathing could not be reaffirmed by the results of this research.
  • Tourism brochures in North Iceland lack ethnic diversity and they also very rarely depict elderly people.
  • Images of touristic activities performed by people mainly show activities where people have to be active, such as winter sports and hiking.
  • The tourism infrastructure in North Iceland is clearly depicted without the presence of people, arguably in order to present the facilities as empty and vacant spaces.
  • Tourism brochures in North Iceland lack images of rural landscapes, while they seem to prefer to show larger villages and towns.
  • The comparative analysis of the six Official Tourist Guides showed that there are considerable differences in how they present themselves, although nature is most popular among all regions.
  • Commercial sources appear to focus on specific activities and nature (puffin, northern lights and whale watching), which is expected to continue in the near future.
  • The analysis of the Visit Mývatn Guidebook showed that there has been a recent and deliberate attempt to rebrand the area as being ´the Northern Lights Capital of Iceland´.

Click here for free download of the report.

ITRC thanks Dennis for pleasant cooperation during his internship and whishes him all the best in the future.