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What characterizes Iceland?

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Brynjar Þór Þorsteinsson, doctoral student at the Faculty of Business Administration

Tourism has improved the national income in Iceland considerably, resulting in one of the highest GDP growth measured in a western country in the past few years. It is thus important to increase the number of studies on this growing industry that has dramatically changed the Icelandic economy in less than a decade.   

The tourists' point-of-view is often sought when it comes to research in tourism, as their experience of Iceland is important to us. This is the subject of Brynjar Þór Þorsteinsson's PhD thesis in his studies in business administration under the supervision of Þórhallur Guðlaugsson, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Business Administration. 

"I wish to study the experience of the tourists who visit us and examine their perception of various factors in connection with the Icelandic tourism industry and the country itself," says Brynjar Þór who is also an Assistant Professor at Bifröst University, and has often dealt with marketing and international trade in his research. 
"The plan is, furthermore, to ask about the tourists' attitude towards other countries as one of the goals of the study is to compare results on a so-called sensory map. The map will show various distinguishing factors compared to other countries," says Brynjar Þór. 

He says that this way it will be possible to evaluate what Iceland stands for in the minds of international tourists and what characteristics stand out and are special compared to the competitive countries.

The tourists' point-of-view is often sought when it comes to research in tourism, as their experience of Iceland is important to us. This is the subject of Brynjar Þór Þorsteinsson's PhD thesis in his studies in business administration under the supervision of Þórhallur Guðlaugsson, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Business Administration. 

Brynjar Þór Þorsteinsson

Evaluates image and the part it plays in localization

As far as the analysis of target groups for the destination Iceland, it is a well know fact that the group visiting Iceland is far from being homogeneous, resulting in different needs and goals. Brynjar Þór has collaborated with fellow academics on target group analysis for the Icelandic tourist industry and the results from that study are included in the doctoral thesis.  

"I use data from the target group analysis to dig deeper into the subject as I am studying various factors in the positioning of countries using Iceland as a case study. I study image and the part it plays in the positioning," he says.

Research – the driving force of new knowledge

The subject is close to Brynjar Þór's heart as his interest lies in marketing and branding, intertwining nicely with his unequivocal interest in tourism.  He is not expecting results right away. "However, the hypothesis is that some parts of the image have changed or shifted. We are in the process of creating a survey that will hopefully be submitted late this summer or in the autumn," says Brynjar Þór who is a great believer in quality research for the benefit of society. "Research is the foundation of knowledge acquisition in all communities in all nations and universities play a key role in the framework." 

He says that his doctoral project will mainly prove useful in evaluating whether and how the development of destinations impacts the perception of image over time. The thesis should also answer whether the different composition of guests has any impact and if so, how and why. Then it becomes possible to evaluate whether the rapid growth in tourism in Iceland has an impact. 

"It would also be possible to use the results in different kinds of marketing and for policy making in the development of future destinations. The purpose is to know more today than yesterday, and even more tomorrow!"