Volcano gives Iceland an eruption of publicity


REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Mount Hekla, Iceland's most active volcano, erupted late last month.

Located about 75 miles east of this capital city, the eruption did not affect the operations of Icelandair, the national carrier based in Reykjavik, and no injuries were reported. In fact, Mount Hekla's activity brought an unexpected bonus: publicity.

"It's been all over the news," Einar Gustavsson, director of the Americas for the Icelandic Tourist Board, said about the media coverage of the eruption. "We've gotten a lot of inquiries. It's been extensively covered on television," he added, referring to footage of the eruption broadcast on CNN.

Gustavsson said the eruption is "in full swing. It is really beautiful and awesome. This is just a spectacular, phenomenal event."

The tourist board reported interest from people who want to travel to the volcano to watch the eruption and said there are three tours available, via four-wheel-drive Jeep, bus or sightseeing flight.

Gustavsson noted that winter is Iceland's "prime time" for adventure travelers, typically ages 25 to 45.

"Many of them are impulse buyers," Gustavsson said. "On short notice, they'll plan a long weekend two to three times a year."

Gunnar Eklund, general manager of the Americas for Icelandair, said the airline has "had some inquiries regarding [the volcano], but nothing big."

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