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Ferðamannalandið Ísland: fjöldi og formgerð erlendra ferðamanna 1858-1914.

Arnþór Gunnarsson
Birtist í
Saga: Tímarit Sögufélags 2015 LIII: II
Á síðari hluta nítjándu aldar og í byrjun tuttugustu aldar tóku erlendir skemmtiferðamenn að venja komur sínar til Íslands. Í þessari grein er kannaður fjöldi erlendra ferðamanna á árunum 1858–1914, sveiflur í komum þeirra og vöxturinn á tímabilinu. Einnig er formgerð ferðamannanna greind sem og hvatinn að baki ferðalaginu. er þetta einkum gert með ítarlegri athugun á íslenskum fréttablöðum og tímaritum sem sögðu frá komu þeirra og ferðum um landið. Höfð er hliðsjón af þróun ferðamennsku erlendis, sérstaklega í Bretlandi þaðan sem flestir ferðamennirnir komu. Í ljós kemur að erlendum ferðamönnum fjölgaði gríðarlega á því 56 ára tímabili sem hér um ræðir, einkum um og upp úr aldamótunum. Í greininni er leitað skýringa á þessari þróun.
Foreign Tourists to Iceland, 1858–1914 This article has two objectives: on the one hand to improve the accuracy of figures on the number of foreign tourists who arrived during the above period, revealing both fluctuations and general increases, and on the other hand to portray the tourist typologies and motivations that lay behind these figures. Icelandic newspapers and periodicals are used as sources, since they reported not only ship arrivals but often also whether there were foreign passengers, sometimes even specifying the number and names of such passengers, their reasons for coming, etc. Apparently there are no registers or statistics on foreign visitors during the above period, but some perspective is provided by developments in tourism overseas, above all in other parts of Europe and not least on trips arranged by the British within Britain and on the Continent. For centuries, Iceland was extremely isolated. Ship traffic was sparse and the sea journey so lengthy that foreigners arrived only rarely, so that sometimes no travellers came at all for years at a time. Although visits grew much more frequent after 1830, Iceland did not witness a vast increase in the number of visitors. In the latter 18th and early 19th centuries, those who did come were generally well-educated males from the upper echelons of society, and they were often involved in scientifically oriented exploration or research expeditions. Recreational tourists as such hardly existed. Beginning in 1858, steamers took over from sailing ships for transporting mail between Copenhagen and Reykjavík; these stopped en route in the British Isles, usually in the vicinity of Edinburgh. Not only did this lead to an increase in the number of scheduled ships carrying mail, but mercantile steamer traffic also increased, particularly after 1870. The added speed and comfort of steamers in comparison to sailing vessels was taken into account by foreigners contemplating a trip and undoubtedly led to a rising number of travellers. Therefore, the range of tourists became broader and their travel patterns changed: the age of recreational tourism had begun. In all probability, more foreign tourists visited Iceland in 1861 and 1862 than ever before, apparently 25 to 30 each year. From then on, the number of tourists gradually increased, until recreational tourists could be estimated by the turn of the century as several hundred per summer. From 1905 to 1914 they usually numbered well over 1000, conceivably peaking at nearly 2000. The rapid growth around 1900 and later can be largely attributed to the popularity of group tours in Iceland and to visits by ocean cruisers, particularly the German vessels which came annually from 1905 to 1914. These vessels arrived from Germany (or sometimes France) via Scotland, then proceeded from Reykjavík to the Svalbard Islands and to Norway before returning to Germany. Popular foreign novels set to varying degrees in Iceland undoubtedly exerted an added attraction on many travellers during these years. In Reykjavík, the 1905–1914 period led to considerable cultural tourism that was related to German cruiser arrivals, with the tourist industry of southwest Iceland beginning to show traits of mass tourism in the high season, i.e. summer. While english-speaking tourists, mainly British, had long been most numerous, the number of German-speaking tourists increased rapidly from the turn of the century and may well have formed the majority after the German cruisers began arriving. Regardless of nationality, it seems certain that the majority of travellers belonged to the upper class, although changing travel patterns towards the end of the 19th century (with shorter stops as well as faster transportation within Iceland) imply that middle-class tourists were on the increase.