Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism talks about Iceland’s economic recovery


by Isha Kawatra

Iceland, along with America and the rest of the world, has been suffering from severe economic crisis for the past few years. In 2008, the banking system crashed, leaving thousands of people without jobs and causing even large companies to fail and declare bankruptcy. The Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Mrs. Katrín Júlíusdóttir, was involved in politics at the time of the crash, and has helped with the country’s recovery. In a press conference with TalonWP journalists in Reykjavik, Júlíusdóttir talked about a wide range of subjects including the economic crisis.

“We had an unhealthy society at the time because we had a banking system that was ten times as big as the Icelandic economy, and that can never end well,” she explained. She also mentioned that with strong underlying sectors such as the fishing and technology industries, the economy was never completely doomed. “We are not a poor country, we have never been in need during this period because we have very strong and rich foundations under this society.”

Iceland, like its neighboring countries, has suffered greatly from the economic fallout in recent years. However, a small population, dedicated Parliament and growing recognition has propelled it further in politics and global affairs than it had been before the crash. As the Minister says, “in problems there are always opportunities, like we are seeing now.”

Though Iceland is generally not the first place most think of when deciding on vacation spots, it has doubled its population with tourists in the past years, and airlines estimate nearly 580 thousand more guests in 2011. Not only has tourism displayed Iceland’s wealth of breathtaking landscapes and tranquil nature, but it also injects foreign currency into the Icelandic economy. This turnover encourages more foreign investment.

As of now, Iceland is only growing bigger and with growth comes challenges. Twenty-five selected people are currently working on a new constitution in a novel approach: “they are doing it openly, they are having discussions with the Icelandic nation through the internet… I think that we will have a constitution that has a focus on these core values that are necessary for our society.”
However, since then, Iceland has bounced back well- with the strong social welfare system and a growing tourism industry, the country is enlarging its presence in global affairs. “I knew we would be quick to recover and…we have an amazing opportunity now to reevaluate all of our core values of our society, and that is what we are doing.”