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Iceland prepares to welcome more Chinese visitors: ambassador

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Ambassador Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson of Iceland receives an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Friday in Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Ambassador Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson of Iceland receives an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Friday in Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT


Iceland welcomes Chinese tourists and the country can accommodate more of them, Ambassador Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson told the Global Times in an inclusive interview on Friday.

"We welcome Chinese tourists and we are very happy that last year almost 20,000 Chinese tourists came to Iceland," Gunnarsson said, adding that they are improving the visa sections and adding more people.

More Chinese showed interest in visiting Iceland on social media platforms, especially after Iceland's football team made their debut in the FIFA World Cup and earned a point against two-time champions Argentina, with many saying they were impressed with the team's excellent performance. 

Articles on Iceland circulated online after the game and many netizens said they are eager to visit the country.

An employee from a Beijing-based travel agency told the Global Times that the number of people inquiring about tours to Iceland has increased.

"The Iceland football team has provided for Iceland. Iceland and other Arctic nations used to be the choice of a small group of Chinese because it is more expensive than tours to other European countries," the employee said.

In response to news that Iceland may restrict the number of tourists over its inadequate infrastructure and environmental concerns, Gunnarsson said "I think we can manage to receive many more tourists but we just need some time to organize ourselves. We will not restrict the number of tourists."

"But right now if you go to Iceland, you have to reserve your hotel room in advance to make sure you have somewhere to stay, and it could be difficult to find a hotel room or an Airbnb apartment in summer," Gunnarsson said.

He also said that compared with other European countries, Iceland is quite young geologically and politically, and tourists can see an island that was formed relatively late.

He mentioned the country's enthusiasm for football - when Iceland played Argentina, events were canceled and shops were closed, and people who had planned to get married on that day postponed the wedding because there was no way to get people to attend anything.

Since some Chinese media reported that many Iceland football team players have another job, Gunnarsson said that everyone on the national team is a professional football player.

"But our football players are very much aware of this. They always prepare to do something else once their football career is over," Gunnarsson said.



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