Iceland is a tiny country filled with glaciers, thermal hot springs, and tourists.
Situated northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Greenland and Norway, the number of tourists have skyrocketed since 2010, due to a combination of picturesque scenery, colourful villages, and a spectacular marketing campaign.
About 332,000 people live in Iceland, and 325,000 Americans have visited Iceland so far this year. By the time December rolls around, the Icelandic Tourist Board says American tourists will outnumber locals for the first time in history.
They're not the only ones to be interested. More than 1.6 million foreign visitors touched down in Iceland this year, and a report from booking company Kayak shows a 65 per cent increase in searches for Iceland hotels and flights between 2015 and 2016.
According to Vox, it all started with a volcanic eruption in 2010. The plume of ash and smoke from Eyjafjallajökull shrouded Europe, shutting down the aviation industry. Iceland was making international headlines, and the tourism board pounced.
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They flooded social media with a series of videos called "Inspired by Iceland", showcasing the country's assets. Consumers became infatuated with the pristine landscapes and rugged frontier feel - so much so that the number of registered tour operators more than quadrupled between 2010 and 2014. For a country still struggling to recover from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, it was a tremendous economic boost - with tourism now accounting for more than 10 per cent of the nation's jobs.
The second major development came from the country's budget airline, WOW Air. They began offering extremely cheap flights linking Europe and the United States in 2012, with a free stopover in Iceland on the way. They recently announced a set of flights from Los Angeles to Reykjavik for just US$99 ($137), which sold out in minutes.
"It's not too far (from the United States) - but when you're there, it feels like you're on a different planet," Kayak's vice president of marketing, David Solomito, told Zachary Crockett at Vox. "People see pictures on social media and think it's on Mars. It feels out of this world. It has that Instagram factor."
There have been a few growing pains along the way. Although the tourist trail includes a number of marked routes, plenty of reckless tourists are damaging the island's sensitive flora and fauna by taking their rental vehicles off road, according to The Reykjavik Grapevine.
The magazine also reports almost 90 per cent of Icelanders believe tourists should pay more for goods and services, saying there are already suspicions of an emerging "double economy".
Meanwhile, Reykjavik has exploded with hotels and souvenir shops, which is driving property prices to record highs. Inflation is so extreme some locals say the feel they have to move out in summer to make way for the incoming hordes.
"It's like the city is not my city anymore, it's like Disneyland downtown," said resident Birgitta Jonsdottir.