While not a member of the European Union, Iceland is nonetheless part of the passport-free Schengen zone, the external borders of which the European Commission has seen fit to reopen as of July 1. Credit: Thomas Nilsen.

With the nation of Iceland reopening soon to tourism, some tour companies there are now offering to cover voluntary Covid-19 screening fees for visitors, which can run up to around US$114, Laurie Baratti of Travel Pulse reported.

Iceland’s latest border travel policies offer inbound visitors the option to either take a Covid-19 test upon arrival or adhere to the standard fourteen-day quarantine.

Those who are tested receive their results within 24 hours via the “Rakning C-19” contact-tracing app (which they’re required to download) and, once cleared, are free to head off to their excursions around the country.

The Nordic nation relies rather heavily on tourism revenue, and the impact of Covid-19-related travel bans was substantial. The National Statistical Institute of Iceland estimated that the island has suffered a 28% decline in tourism takings from foreign visitors.

While not a member of the European Union, Iceland is nonetheless part of the passport-free Schengen zone, the external borders of which the European Commission has seen fit to reopen as of July 1, 2020.

Airport testing measures have been introduced as the safest conceivable way to restart the tourism sector, but industry leaders worry that the screening fees of around US$114 may prove off-putting for potential tourists who are considering Iceland as a summer destination.

“Iceland has managed the pandemic exceptionally well, and that is due to widespread testing. We are dedicated to protecting the health of our fellow citizens and visitors, and testing ensures maximum safety,” remarked Styrmir þór Bragason, founder and CEO of eco-tourism company Arctic Adventures.

þór Bragason said that tour specialists received a flood of inquiries following the announcement of Iceland’s reopened borders, but that those would-be travelers remain wary and retain some pandemic-related concerns.

Realizing that paying for mandatory Covid-19 testing represents an extra stressor for travelers, Arctic Adventures is alleviating that burden by covering the testing fee for its foreign guests, and it’s encouraging other Icelandic tour operators to do the same.

Some, it says, are already following suit. “Our goal is to make this process easier by covering costs and revitalize our tourism sector,” þór Bragason said.

“Testing costs aside, Iceland should be an attractive destination for pandemic travelers this summer. It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, which makes social distancing quite easy,” he explained.

Iceland saw an incredible rise in the number of tourists visiting its shores, and it is as much as a result of the number of Hollywood movies and TV shows being filmed there as it is to the spectacular scenery on show.

Fans of the popular TV show Game of Thrones and the hit movie Interstellar, among others, were flocking to Iceland to witness the scenery they have seen on TV in real life.