Success and collaboration: 3 insights from Iceland

better tourism collaborative tourism
Success and collaboration: 3 insights from Iceland The Tourism Space | Background of northern lights at nightime in Iceland with teal border square and white writing and white The Tourism Space logo.

Collaboration and working together have been two key focus areas of our work since the inception of The Tourism Space. When combining distinct thought processes, ideas and working methods, we raise each other up, as together we are stronger and together we can do so much more.

This week in The Huddle we were joined by Ásta Kristín Sigurjónsdóttir, CEO of the Iceland Tourism Cluster and expert in Cluster Management. The title of her talk was ‘how to accelerate success through collaboration’, an area in which she has a wealth of experience. Ásta is an advocate for collaboration, promoting the benefits of collaboration with the Huddle group and pointers to remember for instigating successful collaboration. One element the talk highlighted was that although we are based in different countries, there is a similar ethos that parallels across all countries - together we are better. In this article we will share 3 insights from Iceland that emerged from Ásta’s talk in The Huddle.


1. Tourism is part of a bigger ecosystem

Tourism is a versatile industry and intertwines itself with other varying sectors of business. The tourism network is grander and wider than we initially think. Cross-sector cooperation and collaboration are ways in which many diverse stakeholders can interact, partner and network to develop a destination and gain competitiveness.

In The Huddle, Ásta gave us a breakdown of the Iceland Tourism Cluster map which shows the traditional tourism sectors, or core tourism businesses, in the middle and the influencing stakeholders which have a direct impact on the way in which tourism is managed and developed in Iceland. It is a formal way of collaborating. There are the related clusters including the fisheries, food and finance industry and direct beneficiaries such as manufacturers, financial institutions and national parks. Then there are the other bodies such as national authorities, associations, destination management organisations, educational training and research bodies and industry specialists. The Cluster as a whole encompasses and includes all bodies who have a moderate impact on how tourism is developed in the destination. The benefit of having this myriad of industries under one umbrella is through the information and knowledge sharing that it facilitates. There is an avenue in which a member of the cluster can gain awareness of another area of business. The Cluster becomes a bridge that connects each element to another. It is a collective approach, incorporating agencies and enterprises, and opens a channel for communication and collaboration between all stakeholders of tourism in Iceland.

“You are picking off so many brains through working in a group. Others have experience and knowledge in areas that we don’t. There is a better understanding which is more cost effective when implementing projects.” (Ásta Kristín Sigurjónsdóttir)



2. Collaborating with international partners is a source of learning and funding

Global business has its benefits such as encouraging diversity and developing intercultural understanding which in turn breaks down barriers and misconceptions. Working with international partners highlights different ways of thinking and working and promotes openness. It pushes you to visualise something from a different perspective. Tourism has made our world smaller and more connected allowing us to open our minds to different cultures, just as collaborating with international partners opens us to a new way of learning.

Through the Iceland Tourism Cluster, Ásta and her team have had the opportunity of collaborating with international partners on various EU projects. She mentions the importance of this as a source of learning as well as a source of funding for the Cluster. Our connection with Ásta is through an EU project led by Munster Technological University on the Circular Economy 4 Regenerative Tourism (CE4RT). It allows us to build our networks wider on an international level, tapping into international innovation and gaining insights from them.

3. Tourism is a “living creature”

We sometimes think about tourism, as Ásta puts it, as “a living creature” or animate object for its many features. As mentioned before, tourism is not a standalone industry it is connected to so many others and offers the opportunity to bring people in who might have a broader and varying perspective. Tourism development therefore can bring these different stakeholders together to create conditions for the communities and destination to thrive and flourish, delivering a net benefit for all stakeholders.


What is the Iceland Tourism Cluster?

The Iceland Tourism Cluster is a business-driven organisation with members from all over the value chain of Tourism and Travel in Iceland. The cluster focuses on promoting competitiveness and value creation within the Icelandic tourism industry. The main role of the Tourism Cluster is to enhance cooperation in the industry by bridging between the whole value chain of Tourism. The cluster offers a strong network of business leaders that have a focus on making the industry sustainable towards the future. The focus areas of the Cluster are sustainability, innovation, digital solutions and global connections.


What is The Huddle?

The Huddle is an online tourism community and network for like-minded tourism and hospitality professionals to connect, share and grow. It is free and all are welcome. It is a place to develop professionally and enhance your leadership, collaboration and networking skills and your knowledge on areas such as sustainable tourism and regenerative tourism. Learn more and register at


Aoibheann Boyle

If you are interested in learning more about collaboration or regenerative tourism, get in touch at [email protected].

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