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The Economy

Fishing and Seafood

The economic backbone has been seafood since the early 1900‘s. The region was established on success in the seafood industry. The quality of seafood is outstanding due to the closeness to some of the world´s cleanest and coldest fishing grounds for Atlantic Cod. The infrastructure was built to accommodate export to the demanding European and US markets.  Almost all (99%) of the region´s seafood goes for export. Roughly 15% of the seafood is exported chilled and fresh straight to international markets.  The level of know-how in the region is extraordinary for such a small region (population 6.970).

The region boasts of an excellent environment for further development of fish farming in many of its long fjords. There are already fish farms that cultivate cod, arctic char, (Salmo alpinus) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and mussels (Mytilus edulis) to be found in the region.  Salmon farming and arctic char farming has the potential to grow significantly into a profitable sector.  Fish farming does not have the same strict investment regulations for foreign investment as does the conventional cod-fishing.

One of the benefits of the economy is that within it the supporting and service industry for fishing, fish processing and cold storage is to be found within the region.   There is even a hi-technology manufacturer of automated processing solutions for fish, shrimp, salmon and poultry in Isafjordur.  The company´s know-how was developed through successful service and cooperation with the key firms. Now this knowledge can be  transferred to other industries and a majority of production is for export.  Similar example of know-how are applicable to the other sectors of the service industry as well.

 

Tourism

Narrow fjords, high mountain plateaus and rural charm are the best ways to describe what the Westfjords have to offer.  For many years the destination Westfjords has been like a hidden treasure in Iceland.  The magnificent natural settings include 3 of Europe‘s largest bird-cliffs, one of which is the most Westerly point of Europe.  The ocean and the deep fjords play a big part in the region´s identity and recent investments in ocean related tourism such as sea angling which has provided a significant growth spurt for the tourism economy.

Tourism is a growing sector in the region but it is far from being within the context of “mass tourism”.  It is a fact that it is the rural charm and untouched pristine nature of the region that has ignited the tourism growth. The popularity is such that the region is now one of the top ten most interesting places to visit according to Lonely Planet guide.  This recognition is important but equally important are the opportunities.

Although the region is rural  it is as self- sufficient as  all the necessary trade and service are to be found in the regional capital, Isafjordur. Tourism is a relatively young sector and needs further investment and improvements.  Most apparent is the need for long term investments in 4-5 star hotels throughout the region and investments in tour operators. This area fits very well for winter sports of all kinds, adventure tours, bird watching tours, arctic fox watching, boating tours, glacier adventure tours etc.