03.02.2016 09:42

United Kingdom, 02 February, 2016: Transatlantic airline, Icelandair has today launched their new service, Stopover Buddy which aims to defeat holiday maker overspend and fully immerse visitors in Icelandic, local culture. On a transatlantic stopover, members of the airline team including stewardesses, pilots and even the CEO of Icelandair will be up for grabs upon landing, as personal, local Buddies offering a rare glimpse into the ‘real’ Iceland.

A new global study of holidaymakers, conducted by Icelandair, found the tide is turning for the larger tourist attractions in favour of smaller, hidden haunts only known to locals. The survey saw 23% of (Brits) prefer to soak up the local atmosphere over sightseeing however, a further 39% said they felt they’d never actually been able to fully immerse themselves in a local culture whilst abroad, a growing desire indicative of a wider global trend; holidaying like a local.

The Icelandair study also revealed that 72% of (UK) holidaymakers feel self conscious due to “looking like a tourist” in foreign countries. 46% have been left red-faced because they couldn’t speak the local language, while one in eight have been so confused they ordered the wrong thing at a restaurant. 4% admit they’d been caught out wearing the classic tourist piece of kit, the bumbag and 7% said they’d driven on the wrong side of the road. This lack of knowledge has also been pulling on our purse strings. As a nation we (Brits) overspend by a whopping £17.21 billion per year due to a lack of local knowledge about where to eat, stay or how best to get about.

The research findings also show travellers want to make the most of weekend breaks. 9% of (Brits) stated they have been to a tourist attraction for no more than five minutes just so they can say they've been there, rising to 20% of 18-24 year olds. Icelandair’s Stopover service helps passengers make the most of their precious time away by offering consumers on transatlantic routes the option to stay in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare, allowing them to visit not one but two places across the Atlantic in one trip. Passengers taking an Icelandair Stopover have risen over 60% in the past four years, supporting this popular trend of consumers wanting to maximise their time off.

Further statistics uncovered that we spend on average 4 hours and 36 minutes rifling through guidebooks and researching online before a mere weekend break, with some even spending more than 49 hours – that’s just over a working week! Thankfully, the Stopover Buddies’ local knowledge and range of Icelandair gateways will now help passengers to save money and make the most of their time away.

Birkir Hólm Guðnason, CEO at Icelandair, comments, “As the findings show, people want to experience local culture and unique adventures over anything else whilst on holiday. However, we are more time-pressured than ever these days and people can’t spend hours researching the best things to do and places to go. We are thrilled to be able to offer a service to our guests that remove these stresses. We have worked closely with our colleagues on the Stopover Buddy service, discovering their interests, hobbies and unrivalled local knowledge which will make for some truly unique and personalised experiences. These friendly and warm individuals, who are keen to open up their lives to our passengers, will show them a really great, authentic time in Iceland during their transatlantic stopover.”

Birkir, 41, is himself taking part in the Buddy service offering passengers, lucky enough to be matched with him, off-piste skiing. Visitors could also be paired with Margret, 64, a stewardess of 30 years who is an expert on geothermal springs. Or enjoy a cooking lesson in traditional Icelandic fish dishes with stewardess, Inga, 45, who can introduce visitors to the local fisherman. Passengers wanting to keep active on their Stopover may find themselves on a running or cycling tour with fitness fan, Dagur, 51, who has worked in Icelandair’s IT department for 20 years. More adventurous guests can spend time with pilot, Sigrun, 44, whose passion is racer biking down icy mountains!

“Icelanders are known as the friendliest people in the world, and now Icelandair is officially the friendliest airline.” Birkir Hólm Guðnason.

The one of a kind Stopover Buddy service will be available for Icelandair transatlantic passengers to enjoy from 2nd February to April 30th 2016. To find out more please visit Icelandair.co.uk/stopover-buddy