When it wanted to become a major player in world tourism, you could say population 350,000 Iceland did too good of a job, testing their own hospitality to the tune of 1.3 million annual tourists.
But that’s not the only reason Icelandic airlines are looking to destinations abroad for growth opportunities: they're also making a bid to promote “Macaronesia” as Europe's newest buzzy travel destination. Often misspelled as “Macronesia” in a false analogy to Micronesia, the region comprises four archipelagos in the North Atlantic: Azores and Madeira (controlled by Portugal), Canary (controlled by Spain) and Cape Verde (an independent nation in the African Union, formerly Portuguese).
Icelandair is reportedly considering a 49% purchase of Azores Airlines from the country’s government, and have just taken management of Cape Verde’s Cabo Verde Airlines in collaboration with their government as well. The latter used to be a stopover point between Italy and Latin America, among other routes, but since the development of more powerful long-range vessels, visitation has dwindled dramatically.
Vacationers to Macaronesia are in for a different kind of vacation than they would be landing in Reykjavik, but can still find whale-watching and luscious nature, and with relative proximity to mainland Europe (at least for now), less tourist inundation.
Images: Azores Airlines