Iceland Academy Uses Online Education to Spur Tourism


Iceland has released an online tool called Iceland Academy to teach tourists the basics of what they should know as visitors to the nation. Local people and experts are teaching classes on the site in a variety of subjects from culture and etiquette to safety.

Iceland Academy is part of the Inspired by Iceland campaign, and anyone is welcome to sign up for free. Just like a traditional school, each semester will include new classes. Those who complete classes get badges, and those who collect all the available badges can apply for a “field trip” to Iceland for two.

The entertaining and short video-based tutorials include eight special guests from the Icelandic Search and Rescue Service, the National Culinary Team, and adventure sports experts, reports Jessica Goodfellow of the Drum. Topics include hot tub etiquette, local sustainable food, glacier hiking safety, and why Icelandic moss is so important to the local ecosystem.

Paul Fontaine of the Grapevine quoted the Iceland Academy mission statement:

Iceland is an amazing country filled with beautiful nature, wonderful food, and inspiring art and culture. And at the Iceland Academy we want to help you get the most of it. Our unique online program has been specially designed to teach you the essentials of Iceland. So by the end of term you’ll be able to travel, eat, and even shower like a local.

According to Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, director of Tourism and Creative Industries at Promote Iceland, these informative classes are in high demand. Interest in visiting Iceland from North America and Europe has increased by 59% since 2012, and many of those visitors seek out the country’s unique nature experiences. However, the beautiful glaciers can be dangerous to human life, and human life can be dangerous to the environment as well, which spurs a need for these educational videos.

The eight tutorials and their instructors are “Responsible Travel in Iceland” with Stina Bang, “Staying Safe in Iceland” with Duty Officer of Icelandic Search and Rescue and head of the SafeTravel project Jónas Guðmundsson, “How to Eat Like an Icelander” with National Culinary Team member Ylfa Helgadóttir,

Other modules include “A Guide to Winter Sports in Iceland” with Ski Area Manager Guðmundur Karl Jónsson, a “Guide to Icelandic Festivals” with personal assistant and former head of PR and marketing for Iceland Airwaves Kamilla Ingibergsdóttir, “Capturing the Northern Lights” with photographer Baldur Kristjánsson, “Therapeutic Iceland” with wellness specialist Guðrún Bjarnadóttir, and “A Beginner’s Guide to Iceland Sagas” with expert Sigríður Margrét Guðmundsdóttir.

Future classes will include a packing lesson called “Pack Warm and Stay Happy,” “Driving in Iceland,” and a guide to longer trips within the nation.

The online school was unveiled on February 25th.

Inspired by Iceland is a partnership between the government of Iceland, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, Landsbankinn, Icelandair, and other organizations. The executive body and developer of the campaign is Promote Iceland.

Last year, the same program invented the world’s first human search engine. Ask Guðmundur allowed tourists to get answers about their destination from real people.