About Vakinn

Independent quality assurance is becoming increasingly important for international visitors. Survey results show that travelers prefer companies with a credible and independent quality certification.

Vakinn, the official quality and environmental system for Icelandic Tourism is based on Qualmark- New Zealand Tourism Official Mark of Quality. Much work has been put into adapting the system to Icelandic conditions involving various stakeholders in tourism as well as specialists from diverse fields of expertise.

The Vakinn star rating criteria for hotels is, however, composed according to the European Hotelstars system, led by the Hotrec Association. Star rating criteria for other categories of accommodation are based on the Qualmark system.

Vakinn is run by the Icelandic Tourist Board which leads the project in close cooperation with the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, Innovation Center Iceland and the Icelandic Tourism Association.


Auðkenni samstarfsaðila


The aim of Vakinn is to strengthen quality, safety and environmental awareness within Icelandic tourism by means of guidance and support and promote social responsibility of tourist service providers in the process. For its members, Vakinn is an effective tool to increase quality and safety, providing diverse supplementary materials, guidelines, data and check-lists that are useful in improving operating procedures and service.

We have no choice

No one sees this more clearly than those working in tourism. In focus group meetings of tourism providers, during the compilation of the official Icelandic Tourism Strategy 2011-2020, questions regarding values within tourism services were raised. The most frequently mentioned values were the environment, quality, professionalism, cooperation, integrity and purity. In other words…

Quality and the environment are decisive factors for Icelandic tourism. 

    Environment, quality, professionalism, cooperation, integrity and purity are the values of Icelandic tourism. 


The Vakinn team at the Icelandic Tourist Board

Alda Þrastardóttir Áslaug Briem Elías Gíslason  Snorri Valsson
Alda Þrastardóttir
Project manager
Áslaug Briem 
Project manager
Elías Bj. Gíslason
 Snorri Valsson

The Vakinn steering committee

  • Elías Bj. Gíslason from the Icelandic Tourist Board.
  • Helga Árnadóttir from the Icelandic Travel Industry Associaton.
  • Sigríður Ólöf Kristjánsdóttir from Innovation Center Iceland.
  • Berglind Viktorsdóttir from Hey Iceland, represents participants.
  • Einar Torfi Finnsson from Icelandic Mountain Guides, represents participants.

 Fulltrúar starfsmanna Ferðamálastofu sem starfa við Vakann sitja fundi stýrihópsins.

The role of the steering committee is to

  • Take part in the development of Vakinn.
  • Discuss revised quality and environmental criteria and confirm changes to those.
  • Discuss and confirm new quality criteria.
  • Be the spokesmen of Vakinn.

Complaints Committee

To rule on issues relating to Vakinn audits, the Icelandic Tourist Board has appointed a complaints committee. 

The role of the Complaints Committee is to:

  1. Settle disputes relating to Vakinn audits.
  2. Grant excemptions from criteria, based on valid arguments.
  3. Settle other issues that may arise regarding Vakinn.

The complaints committee is comprised of the following three members:

  • Helena Þ. Karlsdóttir from the Icelandic Tourist Board.
  • Sigríður Ingvarsdóttir from the Icelandic Travel Industry Association.
  • Hildigunnur Hafsteinsdóttir from the Consumers' Association of Iceland.

Elías Bj. Gíslason is the committees' secretary. 

Appreciation of Contribution

The Icelandic Tourist Board and the Vakinn steering committee express their gratitude and appreciation towards all those who contributed to the compilation of the Vakinn criteria. The process clearly revealed the great capability and strong sense of responsibility of many Icelandic tourism providers, establishing their management as excellent role models.