Annual report

Targeted education is effective

Executive Director's Address

Hildur Betty Kristjánsdóttir

The tourism competence center has established itself as a center of expertise that assists managers in establishing education and training in tourism companies.

It will soon be six years since the Ministry of Employment and Innovation entered into an agreement with the Norwegian Education Center for Employment to host the Hæfnisetir. Today, the Ministry of Culture and Trade finances the project. During that time, Hæfnisetir staff have visited over 320 tourism companies all over the country and introduced them to the activities. A total of 183 companies have decided to invest in staff skills, and the training has reached 3750 employees. The employee education funds have played an important role here by providing educational grants. The goal is to increase productivity and quality in tourism as well as professionalism and job satisfaction, which in turn results in lower employee turnover. The project supports the goals and vision of Icelandic tourism until the year 2030 that the industry is characterized by professionalism and that staff have the skills needed to meet the expectations of tourists for a unique experience during their journey through Iceland.

Enabling people from diverse backgrounds to develop their skills is essential. This supports the creation of value in society and meets the demand of the business world. That is why Hæfnistiðir and the Education center for the economy have worked on the development of study line in tourism in collaboration with secondary education, the industry and various stakeholders. New tool "Professional certificate of the working life" was also introduced to the game during the year and it provides confirmation of the skills to perform a certain job. Within the tourism industry, professional certificates can be obtained for two types of jobs; reception at accommodation og service in the restaurant. The professional certificates can be evaluated as a shortening of the aforementioned study line.

It is expected that the number of tourists will increase significantly in the coming years. That is why it is important to continue to support tourism companies in investing in the skills of their staff, building a solid operational base and creating an increased competitive advantage. The tourism competence center has shown its strength in this regard through active collaboration and dialogue with the tourism industry, the education system and business partners. At the end of 2022, Hæfnisetir's staff was 3,32 full-time equivalents. I would like to thank the steering committee and staff of the project for the excellent cooperation in 2022 and all those we have worked with.

Highlights of the year


Hildur Betty is the new manager of the FA and Hæfnisetir


The center of competence on the Education Day of the working life

The education talk has its march


Education talk: Good service - what do you need?

The podcast the trip has its march

Working day of the Höfnisetir steering group

Snæfellsnes Regional Park completes the "Education for the Future" project


Meeting in Akureyri with partners about broad-based tourism studies

The trip: How is it best to consider foreign employees?


Höfnisetrit participates in a joint shake-up in Dalabyggð

Workday for Höfnisetur staff on priorities for 2023


The annual report of the Hæfniseterin for the year 2021 is published

Menntamorgunn: Foreign staff in tourism - Recruitment process and multiculturalism

The tool International hiring process comes out


The tool Employee onboarding comes out

Education morning:
Good service - what do you need?


The skill center is traveling around the East and the North


Höfnisetrit visits companies and institutions in Ísafjörður takes off

The competence center at the tourism harvest festival
in the West

Education morning og Education talk: Good to know - Disclosure, security and liability


Education morning: Do you want to succeed in social media marketing?

Höfnisetrit presents its activities at Austurbrúar's electronic morning meeting


Hildur Betty is the new manager of the FA and Hæfnisetir


The annual report of the Hæfniseterin for the year 2021 is published

Menntamorgunn: Foreign staff in tourism - Recruitment process and multiculturalism

The Foreign Staff Recruitment Process tool is released


New and improved digital tools for the tourism industry presented on hæ


The Rookie Training tool is released

Education morning:
Good service - what do you need?


Education talk: Good service - what does it take?

The podcast The journey has taken its course

Working day of the Höfnisetir steering group

Snæfellsnes Regional Park completes the "Education for the Future" project


The skill center is traveling around the East and the North


A meeting in Akureyri with partners about tourism studies on a broad basis

The trip: How is it best to consider foreign employees?


Höfnisetrit visits companies and institutions in Ísafjörður goes live

The competence center at the tourism harvest festival
in the West

Menntamorgunn and Menntaspjall: Good to know - Disclosure, safety and responsibility.


Höfnisetrit participates in a joint shake-up in Dalabyggð

Workday for Höfnisetur staff on priorities for 2023


Mentamorgunn: Do you want to succeed in social media marketing?

Höfnisetrit presents its activities at Austurbrúar's electronic morning meeting

The staff of the Skills Center
Expenditure in ISK
Promotional costs
Travel costs
Other costs

About the Tourism Skill Center

The competence center works on the basis of the tourism industry in promoting competence and quality in the industry. Work is carried out according to a service agreement with the Ministry of Culture and Trade, and the agreement is valid until the end of 2023. The Ministry's contributions amount to ISK 50 million. in a year. The skills center is stored at the Employment Training Center (FA).

The main projects of the year

  • Development of educational and support material for managers and staff in the tourism industry in collaboration with business partners.
  • Advice and assistance to companies within the tourism industry in establishing education and training, Education for the future.
  • Development of a study line for tourism in cooperation with the business world, secondary education, secondary schools and universities.
  • Cooperation with the destination and marketing offices of the regions.

The role of the Center for Competence

  • The development of skills in tourism is based on criteria and in line with the needs and development of the industry and society.
  • Tourism is a sought-after workplace where opportunities for career development are offered.
  • The tourism industry has excellent qualified staff.


  • The development of skills in tourism is based on criteria and in line with the needs and development of the industry and society.
  • Tourism is a sought-after workplace where opportunities for career development are offered.
  • The tourism industry has excellent qualified staff.

Valid   Professionalism - Collaboration - Solutions

The project manager settles the year

Haukur Harðarson

The number of foreign tourists to Iceland is expected to increase, and according to the latest forecasts, their total number will be around three million in 2025. Automation and changes in the labor market are reducing the number of simple jobs.

Increased demands are placed on staff to show independence and responsibility, manage projects and manage project elements. Adult education is also changing rapidly. There is more and more emphasis on the workplace as a place of learning and that managers have access to tools to be able to handle that development in the best possible way.

At the same time, the tourism industry has advocated for the availability of job-related and relevant studies, both at the university and secondary school levels. In the report "Competence is the basis of quality" the conclusion is that there is a great need for practical skills in relation to service work. The availability of recognized and practical vocational training in tourism, which takes place at the workplace and in school and has a clear reference to jobs, needs to be greatly increased. Learning will be graded, practical and accessible, based on the competency framework for Icelandic education. Hæfnisetur tourism has been working towards this since its inception and is now celebrating its success.

Here, quality and knowledge are key factors in standing up to international competition. Tourist recommendation scores also need to be maintained and even further increased. At the same time, the industry has to live up to society's expectations. The most important factor in the success that Hæfnisetriðr has achieved is dialogue and cooperation with the industry and education providers regarding needs and implementations. There will continue to be priorities in our work.

Steering Committee

The steering committee of Hæfnisetur tourism consists of four representatives nominated by SAF, ASÍ, the Norwegian Tourism Agency and the Ministry of Culture and Trade. The role of the steering group is, among other things, to formulate policy and prioritize projects, facilitate connections with stakeholders, companies, trade unions, the formal school system and ministries, and evaluate products on a regular basis. During the year, the steering committee met seven times.

The changes occurred in the steering group in the year that Aleksandra Leonardsdóttir took over the place of Frída Valdimarsdóttir. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education and Culture withdrew its representative from the steering group.

Steering group at the end of the year

Jóhannes Þór Skúlason (SAF - Tourism Association), chairman
Aleksandra Leonardsdóttir (ASÍ – People's Association of Iceland)
Elías Bj. Gíslason (Icelandic Tourist Board)
Sunna Þórðardóttir (Ministry of Culture and Trade)

The steering group of the Hæfnisetur tourism service meeting with the Minister of Tourism Lilja Alfreðsdóttir in January 2023.

Ambition and social responsibility in tourism

Aleksandra Leonardsdóttir

Tourism is a relatively new industry in Iceland, and it is safe to say that its development has been rapid in recent years. There is often talk of "growing pains" when such transitions occur in society, but it is important that such explanations, and in many cases excuses, give way to realistic goals for the advancement of the profession. The social responsibility of tourism companies is high. In that context, it is important to keep in mind that a high percentage of personnel in tourism is of foreign origin. It is time to take new and ambitious steps to simultaneously utilize the skills and knowledge of the staff and increase their access to Icelandic society and culture. It is important to agree on the responsibility of tourism in shaping a multicultural society.

In 2019, the report "Immigrants in tourism - a driving force for growth and prosperity - Changes in the Icelandic labor market" by Dr. Hallfríði Þórarinsdóttir. This report is a sad read. The report actually contains the tasks that need to be tackled with regard to the competence and professionalism of managers and staff in the tourism industry. It states that in 2019 it was estimated that around 40% of all registered immigrants on the labor market were employed in tourism and that the percentage of foreign staff in hotels and guesthouses was over 75%. Most of the time, it is unskilled staff in the lowest rungs of the salary scale. The main prerequisite for career advancement is English skills. Icelandic is usually not used in the workplace.

The report reveals that tourism companies are often short-sighted when it comes to the wealth that can be found in the ranks of their staff. Many factors contribute to people's well-being in the workplace, but recognition of competence and opportunities for professional development weigh heavily. Satisfied employees ensure stability in manpower and operations and provide companies with increased possibilities for growth and ambitious plans. Increased knowledge and education has a positive effect on the quality of services, which leads to increased profitability of companies. The first step for companies could be to familiarize themselves with the education, knowledge and experience that their foreign employees have and look for ways to make use of this human resource.

It should be the ambition of companies in the tourism industry to be leaders in increasing their staff's Icelandic language skills. By paying attention to the staff's access to the Icelandic language and Icelandic society, company owners and managers further contribute to the better well-being of the staff and their increased desire to succeed in their work.

The tourism competence center is a platform for developing the skills and professionalism of managers and staff. Methods have been developed to help companies identify training needs and develop solutions to enhance their skills and professionalism. It is important that the companies use it in all the challenges that both the industry and society as a whole are facing. Investing in human resources benefits everyone.

Tools on

During the year, Hæfnisetur tourisminn introduced three new tools that facilitate the training and recruitment of staff. All the tools are available at, administrators and staff free of charge.

To give management and staff an overview of the hiring process for foreign staff, the Hæfnisetur turtsøninginn put together guidelines, which were prepared in collaboration with Fjölmenningarsetur, SAF, ASÍ and tourism companies.

Different rules apply to foreign nationals depending on whether people come from a member state within or outside the EEA/EFTA, and therefore the instructions are divided into two. Their purpose is to facilitate the recruitment process for managers, increase the flow of information to staff and support the good reception of foreign nationals on the Icelandic labor market.

The renewal of staff and the training of new recruits were among the main challenges of the management in 2022. In order to facilitate the reception of new staff, Hæfnisetur turtastønsinn, in collaboration with the Norwegian Tourism Agency, developed a tool that is useful for training.

The tool contains on the one hand support material for managers that helps to set up an efficient reception process and on the other hand educational material for training in the workplace. The educational material is divided into four categories:

  • Housekeeping
  • Food & Drink
  • Communication and hospitality
  • Safety

The tool was developed based on information and data from Vakanum, hö and Typsy. During the development of the content, feedback and ideas from companies and employees in tourism were also requested. is an information and educational website whose aim is to make it easier for frontline staff to provide tourists with good and useful information. The website is especially useful for those who have not previously worked in tourism. On the website you can find various information about the destination Iceland, among other things about the Icelandic people, geography, number of tourists, destinations and safety issues.

The idea for the website came from the Norwegian Tourism Agency and was entrusted with the implementation of it by the Hæfniseter of tourism. In addition to the Norwegian Tourism Agency, the regional destination and marketing offices, Safetravel and ASÍ contributed to the project. The website was also presented to management and tourism staff who gave feedback on the content. Landsmennt, the Labor Force and the Trade and Office Workers' Training Fund sponsored the project.

Updating legacy tools

The educational center of the economy participated in the European project Enterprised on the development of real examples in tourism. After the project was completed, the real-life examples were adapted to Icelandic conditions, and at the same time, work began on harmonizing them with real-life examples from Gerum betor as part of the tool Training in hospitality on hæ The real-life examples from Enterprised and Gerum betor were published together under a new name, Vocational training with situational cases.

“I use the Skills Center's support materials for new recruit training a lot and have used them in our employee handbook. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when such a good database has been processed."

Helga Margrét Friðriksdóttir, director of the Icelandic Settlement Center

Education for the future - Pilot project

The tourism competence center offers advice and support to tourism managers. The goal is to assist managers of small and medium-sized companies in identifying the training needs of staff, setting up training in accordance with needs and measuring results. At the same time, managers receive training in using the Hæfnisetir's tools. The consultancy is entitled Education for the future.

In 2022, it was decided to test drive the project. Four companies participated in Education for the Future, but one company had to cancel after the project started. The three companies that received advice have either already completed the project or plan to complete it in the spring months of 2023. These are Svædisgardinn Snæfellsnes, Landnámssetríð in Borgarnes and Courtyard by Marriott Reykjavik Keflavik Airport.

The companies that participated in Education for the future said they were satisfied with the support from the Hæfniset and also made use of the tools at hæ All the companies believed that the consultation had been successful.

When the pilot project ended, Hæfnisetir started a conversation with three educational partners about cooperation for one year. In order to finance the project, cooperation was requested with the vocational training funds, Landsmennt, Tsrfafl and the Training Fund for retail and office workers. The partnership assumes that Hæfnisetrid will continue to provide advice on the tools on hæ, but the analysis of educational needs, the creation and implementation of an educational plan as well as performance measurements will be in the hands of an external education provider. It is hoped that the project can be started in the spring months of 2023.


The tourism center visits companies and presents them with advice.


The project manager of the Häfnisetir and the manager of the company define the educational goals and analyze the educational needs.


The results of the educational analysis are processed, an educational plan is presented and it is implemented.


The project manager and the manager review how it was done in perspective
of performance measures.

The meeting of Hæfnisetur, SAF and Norðurland's Marketing Agency in August 2022

Cooperation with destination agencies

During the year, formal cooperation began with the destination offices of the regions, and Hæfnisetrid and SAF visited all of them. In August, representatives of Hæfnisetur and SAF had a meeting with the destination office of East and North Iceland, in September the conversation began with the destination office of Reykjaness, South and West Iceland, and in October we went to Vestfjörður.

The visits were the beginning of the joint preparation and organization of open meetings all over the country, which are scheduled to be held in the spring of 2023. The goal of the meetings is to build a conversation about competence, quality and profitability in Icelandic tourism with an emphasis on the importance of a good welcome and training of staff. In order to find out the needs and priorities of tourism companies, surveys were sent out in the six regions of the country and a total of 247 responses were received.

At the same time, all destination offices were consulted during the development of the information website, and received good suggestions on content and structure. A connection was set up from to the websites of the destination agencies.

Promotion and marketing

Homepage -

With the introduction of new tools, Hæfnisetir's website continued to grow and traffic on the web increased.


To strengthen the position of hö as a marketplace for education
in tourism, it was decided to conduct an audit on the web.

An external party was hired to conduct an audit and identify opportunities to make the site more user-friendly. Following the audit, work began on the restoration of the front page of hö

Users during the year: 4.171

24,7% more users compared to the previous year

Average visit time: 3 min and 5 sec

The website went live on October 12, 2022.

Users from 12 Oct to the end of the year: 1.279

Average visiting hours 1 min and 56 sec

During travel and flight

During the year 2022, the staff of the Hæfnisetur visited companies in the South, the East, the North and the Westfjords.

Furthermore, Hæfnisetrid attended various meetings for the tourism industry to present its tools and solutions to managers.

  • the harvest festival of tourism in the West
  • SAF autumn meeting for restaurants and accommodation
  • coordination of tourism in Dalabyggð
  • Austurbrúar's electronic morning meeting

Videos and podcasts

In collaboration with SAF, the production of a new discussion program on tourism issues began, and the series is called Education talk. The first episode premiered on April 11, and two other episodes were released during the year. Menntaspjall is recorded after Menntamorgin and gives those who gave a talk on Menntamorgin the opportunity to have a more in-depth discussion of the subject of Menntamorgin.

the trip, Hæfnisetir's new podcast, started its run this year. The first episode was released on June 10th and the second was released on September 22nd.

There was also an educational video Diversity and cultural competence produced during the year. The video is about cultural competence in tourism and is part of the tool Newly training.

Educational mornings

The Norwegian Center for Tourism Education and SAF organize the Menntamorgunn tourisminn meeting series to present what is at the top of the agenda regarding the competence and quality of the tourism industry in Iceland. Four such meetings were held during the year, and the topics of the meetings were, as usual, varied:

At the meetings, companies shared their experiences, experts and other stakeholders shared good advice, and Hæfnisetrid presented new tools. The meetings in March and May were streamed only due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In October, an on-site meeting and streaming were offered, but given that a significant majority continued to watch via streaming, the decision was made to only offer streaming when Menntamorgann was held in December.

Menntamorgunn 25 May 2022. Speakers and moderator after the meeting.
Education morning 1 December 2022. Lecturers after the meeting.

Curriculum in tourism

In 2020, work began on shaping tourism studies in line with the needs of business life. An analysis of the availability of education related to tourism and the needs of the industry revealed a great need for practical, step-by-step vocational training that takes place both in the workplace and at school and has a clear reference to jobs.

During the year 2021, course descriptions were drawn up for tiered studies at secondary school level in collaboration with the Secondary School in Austur-Skaftafellssýsla and the Education Center for the working life. The program is structured with graduation at qualification level two and three, and depending on the core of the program, trainees choose a specialization. The choice is between four types: Reception, Catering, Mountaineering and Baths, springs, lagoons.

First meeting of partners on studies in tourism, 22 September 2022.

In parallel with this, conversations about certification and implementation took place with the Ministry of Education and Children's Affairs, the National Institute of Education and the Professional Council of the Food, Catering and Tourism Sectors about ways to establish education. At the same time, the work was presented to secondary schools and lifelong learning centers, and a conversation is ongoing with the university community about the connection to continuing education.

The goal of the project "Tourism education on a broad basis" is to implement a course in tourism, among other things for people whose mother tongue is not Icelandic, in a digital environment regardless of residence. The goal is for the program to take place in cooperation with lifelong learning centers, secondary schools and with a connection to further studies at university level. The project received a grant from the Education Fund and work began in the fall of 2022. The parties involved in the project are SÍMEY (Eyjafjarðar Lifelong Learning Centre), Akureyri Vocational School, Tröllaskaga High School, Hólum University, Employment Training Center, SAF and the Vocational Training Center. The first meeting of the partners took place in Akureyri on September 22, 2022. Discussions are underway with more educational partners to join the project.

The tourism competence center and SAF are responsible for communicating analytical work about the needs of the tourism industry in the project, establishing connections with companies for vocational training, assisting with the marketing of studies and making use of work that has already taken place, including curriculum writing and course descriptions. The professional council in the food, catering and tourism sectors has also been part of this conversation since the analysis work on the needs began.

May 2023
Publisher: Tourism Competence Center
The project is hosted by the Icelandic Business Education Center

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