... five months after WOW's purple jets ceased flying, Iceland is suffering a pronounced drop in tourists that threatens to push the country into recession.... The downturn completes a cycle not unfamiliar to the 350,000 people who live on this boom-and-bust-prone island. WOW cannily exploited the financial crisis, which made the country a more affordable tourist destination. Then WOW helped turn Iceland's glaciers and waterfalls into the backdrop for countless selfies, bringing millions of visitors and propelling economic growth. Finally, WOW disappeared, sending Iceland back to trouble.


Mr. Mogensen aimed to turn Reykjavik into a major international air hub, exploiting its position near the top of the globe to transport passengers between North America, Europe and Asia, cutting the time of the traditional routes through London and Dubai. Iceland would be an enticing stopover, if not the final destination.

... now tourism is rolling backward, with the number of international visitors on track to drop by 16 percent this year compared with the year before, and numbers of Americans on pace to plunge by 20 percent.

The sudden shortage of Americans -- widely celebrated as a free-spending people -- is bemoaned by merchants of Viking-themed tourist tchotkes, by whale watching tour operators and by real estate agencies.


Iceland's unemployment rate spiked to 4.7 percent in May, compared with 2.9 percent in January. At the Reykjavik unemployment office, those out of work are growing resigned to settling for less-desirable jobs.

"It's much harder now," said Ivars Rapa, 48, a Latvian immigrant who recently lost his job at a fish processing factory that furloughed its several hundred workers.

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