Excursion: Iceland, October 2022

Tourism Development Studies

Góðan daginn ! (Good Day)

This year Iceland (download our TDS brochure and link to our video) was our destination of choice to experience the local tourism industry from an academic point of view. With great anticipation 17 TDS students as well as our  Program Manager Steffi Schnierer and Professor Jan-Pierre Klage took a plane from Berlin to Iceland on 8 October 2022 to spend the following 7 days discovering the development of the Iceland’s tourism industry.
Also Thilo Kirsch, former TDS student himself, joined the group. Considering his extensive knowledge and experience with Icelandic tourism as well as with our professors accompanying, this was a perfect combination enabling us to get authentic insights and was always up for discussing a plenty of touristic matters together with us. 

Exploring Iceland
We were travelling across Iceland’s entire south coast by bus. This allowed us to take many stops along the way including well known (some might say ‘instagrammable’) spots as well as some off the beaten track once. 

The types of accommodation varied depending on our location in the country. Hotel Cabin was an opportunity for additional bonding with our roommates due to the little space available in our rooms. But once we left the capital Reykjavik and started staying the nights in the countryside, we had the opportunity to share cozy cottages in groups of 6.

Without a doubt, Iceland’s nature has been the most impressive aspect of this trip. We could never get enough of the country’s stunning waterfalls (Skógafoss and Gullfoss), black sand black sand beaches (especially the famous Diamond Beach), the Geysir, the canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur and hiking up the glacier Sólheimajökull. Other highlights included two lava fields where one was already overgrown with moss while the other field was still steaming due to last year’s volcano eruption of Fagradalsfjall. Lastly, we were lucky to spot Iceland’s famous Northern Lights on three nights.

As we were travelling through the south of the country, the students were also able to engage with many representatives from various companies and different fields within the tourism industry. The meetings took place throughout the week ranging from formal meetings to some rather informal chats before or after an activity. The details of our meetings will be discussed in the following paragraphs.


Destination Management

Meeting María Reynisdóttir, who represents the Ministry of Culture and Business Affairs, allowed us to gain an insight into Iceland’s tourism industry from a governmental point of view. She described the development of Iceland’s tourism industry and the country’s focus on sustainable management. In the past years, the country focused on catching up with Iceland’s popularity as a tourism destination, for instance, through increasing touristic infrastructure. This undertaking could sometimes become a challenge due to varying interests of the public and personal interests of private landowners.  

Due to a tight time schedule, we weren’t able to meet with Visit Iceland during our time in the country. But thanks to Ms. Schnierer’s efforts, our course was able to engage with Þórdís Pétursdóttir from Visit Iceland through an online meeting in November. Despite it being online, we got a look behind Iceland’s creative marketing campaigns. Ms. Pétursdóttir emphasized how the organization gets together with various stakeholders in the tourism sector to include them in the process of developing new campaigns. If you have not come across Iceland’s marketing campaigns yet, we recommend you to get a glimpse of them through the following links. ;)

Ask Gudmundur - www.youtube.com/watch;
Looks Like You Need Iceland-www.youtube.com/watch

Leisure Management

One of the most insightful meetings was with the tour operator Arctic Adventures. Byron Conroy (COO), Thor and Ryan gave us a presentation about the company’s targeted tour offers, daily operations, future plans and how to handle disappointing customers when Iceland’s weather gets in the way of the guests’ booked tours. Additionally, Byron showed us examples of Arctic Adventures’ fleet, the garage and storage rooms including all kinds of camper and diving equipment.

When we made a stop at the Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon we had an interesting conversation with Iceberg Boat Tours’ CEO Pavel. He elaborated on how the company is the only one operating on this lake, the hardships of building a touristic attraction in the middle of nowhere and being exposed to extreme winds, and the competition with other operators at another lagoon nearby. 

The meetings also included a chat with Björn who manages Secret Lagoon Iceland. Icelanders do not just make use of the country’s geothermal activity in terms of energy, but they also know how to maximize this valuable resource for leisure activities. That’s why you can find hot pools and lagoons all over the country. We left The Secret Lagoon with the impression that Icelanders take things as they come and that Björn just simply reacted to the country’s rising popularity as an international tourism destination when investing in such a lagoon. This fits perfectly well with the Islandic saying Þetta Reddast meaning that things will all work out in the end.


David Arnar introduced us to Raufarhólshellir, also known as The Lava Tunnel. Not only were we able to explore the cave through his guided tour, but David also answered all kinds of questions extensively with regards to the tunnel’s daily operations, seasonal demand and sustainability. Though the highlight there was the experience of complete pitch black darkness when all artificial lighting inside the cave was turned off.

Geir Gigja, who is the Sales- and Marketing Manager of Hótel Cabin, Hótel Örk and Hótel Klettur, spoke very openly about the company’s facts and figures, individual target groups of each hotel, competition within the hospitality sector in Iceland and future plans. It was also insightful to learn more about the management’s decision to market each hotel individually rather than creating a shared brand image.

Moreover, we were able to discuss the impacts of tourism activities on Iceland’s nature when we met with Sigurgeir who is a ranger at the Skaftafell Visitor Centre in the Vatnajökull National Park. Amongst other aspects he described his work responsibilities as well as his observations of tourists’ (negative) behavior during their visit. It was enriching to get Sigurgeir’s perceptive on tourism and its impacts on Iceland’s nature considering that sustainability was one of the cross-sectorial issues during our field trip.

Academic Meeting

Benjamin Hennig, geography professor at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, gave us an introduction to the Islandic university life. He shared his professional experiences linked to his university work, but also elaborated on what it’s like to live in Iceland as a German expat and, therefore, coming across cultural differences on a regular basis.

Takk kærlega (Thanks a lot) to everyone who offered us real insights into Iceland’s tourism industry including all company representatives we have met as well as our tour guide Thilo. Furthermore, a huge Thank You to Ms. Schnierer who put lots of effort into organizing this trip for us.

This excursion not only added so much to the Applied Tourism course with its hand on experiences, but also gave additional input for further presentations, discussions as well as reflections on Iceland’s tourism industry and tourism overall. It was a great pleasure to collect such memorable and unique moments right at the beginning of our studies and without a doubt many TDS students are already keen to return to Iceland again some time in the future!


TDS Master student, 1st semester

Exkursionen sind ein fester Bestandteil unseres Master-Studiengangs Tourism Development Strategies. Die Philosophie dahinter ist eine stetige und nachhaltige Verzahnung von Theorie und Praxis. Aber nicht nur eine Verbesserung der Fachkompetenz und Angebote zur Förderung des Netzwerkes unserer Studierenden werden mit einer Studienreise angestrebt, ebenso ist es eine Erweiterung des eigenen Horizontes, da oftmals Begegnungen mit ganz anderen Kulturkreisen erlebt werden.


Die stetige Interaktion mit etwa 20 Studierenden über einen Zeitraum von 10 Tagen fördert die Teamfähigkeit aller Teilnehmer. Weiterhin werden kommunikative, soziale Kompetenzen und nicht zuletzt die eigene Persönlichkeit gestärkt.

Erfahren Sie hier mehr über den Master-Studiengang Tourism Development Strategies an der Hochschule Stralsund.