Vakinn is the quality and environmental system of the tourism sector in Iceland and is based on a quality system in New Zealand for tourism that is called Qualmark. A great deal of work was done to localize the system and adapt to Icelandic conditions, and that the project brought many parties from the tourism sector as well as experts in various fields, including iCert’s partners. However, the quality criteria for hotels are based on quality criteria from the European Hotelstars system, which is led by Hotrec, while the criteria for other accommodation categories are based on Qualmark. Changes have now been introduced in January 2019, which are intended to make the systems more efficient and effective. One of the changes made involved getting independent parties to audit the systems with regards to requirements of Vakinn and provide certification if fulfilled.

The Icelandic Tourist Board manages the Vakinn, but the project was originally designed in co-operation with the Icelandic Tourism Association, Icelandic Innovation Center and the former Icelandic Tourism Association.

In order to ensure that iCert customers receive excellent service and benefits from the audit and certification process of Vakinn, iCert has entered into cooperation agreements with individuals who have decades of experience from the tourism sector. These include Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir, former tourist director and Ásbjörn Björgvinsson, who is a member of the tourism council. They are special advisors to iCert in the affairs of Icelandic tourism and Vakinn. This ensures that iCert’s audits of Vakinn and certification are based on the experience of the tourism sector and Vakinn .

The objectives of Vakinn is to promote quality, safety and environmental awareness in tourism, as well as to promote social responsibility within the sector.

“The objective of Vakinn is to increase professionalism and enhance quality, safety and environmental awareness in Icelandic tourism”

Vakinn quality and environmental system is recent in Iceland, but no management system has previously existed that addresses as many aspects within the tourism sector as the Vakinn does. Before Vakinn was introduced , parties in the tourism sector in Iceland had discussed for many years about the necessity of a harmonized quality system that would be suitable for all branches of the tourism sector in Iceland.

The system is divided into two categories:

  1. Accommodation – Based on general criteria for accommodation as well as specific criteria for six different accommodation categories. Hotel accommodation is classified into three to five stars, while other accommodation is not star rated. Other accommodation receive certification if the the general and specific criteria are met.
  2. Tourism activities other than accommodation – The classification is based on two types of criteria, such as accommodation. On one hand general criteria and on the other specific criteria depending on what kind of activity is offered. Star rating does not apply to activities other than accommodation, if the criteria of Vakinn are met, companies receives certification.

As with Vakinn quality part, Vakinn’s environmental partis is based on a comparable criteria in Qualmark system in New Zealand. it’s a known fact that Iceland’s main attraction is its magnificent nature. Iceland’s nature is one of the nation’s resources that must be preserved and remain intact for future generations. It is therefore important to link environmental and quality issues. One of the objectives of the government, Vakinn and the tourism sector is to get as many operators as possible to show social responsibility in their work, participate in environmental work and get certified.
The environmental part of Vakinn is now part of the general criteria and therefore the bronze acknowledgement is granted for the environmental part, when the general criteria are met.
All further information about Vakinn, e.g. instructions for implementation, can be found on Vakinn’s website.

It is important to keep in mind that nature and the reputation of the country are the most important thing for the economy of the turism sector. Tourists look for companies that show responsibility and contribute to environmental and social issues. Quality, environmental and security issues are thus key factors in the future of Icelandic tourism. The Vakinn is a powerful tool for enhancing professionalism and quality in tourism and at the same time the Vakinn mark is a quality stamp that can be used as a marketing tool for all companies certified. Companies and individuals are increasingly looking for confirmation of quality, but certification of Vakinn is a quality stimulus. However, no requirement is made for the quality and environmental systems of Vakinn to be audited and certified, but by implementing Vakinn in the activities of tourism companies they get

  • Quality and environmental criteria for their operations that have been reviewed and approved by experts in each field, based on experience.
  • Ways to care for quality and environmental issues professionally and honestly.
  • Methods to promote better operations and increased professionalism.
  • Methodology to increase the likelihood of meeting customer expectations.
  • Promote social responsibility.

By auditing and certifying Vakinn quality and environmental systems, there is also an increased benefit to

  • receive systematic expert evaluation based on recognized quality and environmental criteria;
  • receive confirmation that the company acts professionally and honestly with regards to quality and environmental issues;
  • gain market benefit and competitive advantage through the certification of certification body;
  • comments on opportunities for improvement that contribute to better operations and increased professionalism;
  • increase the likelihood of constantly satisfying customer expectations;
  • promote continuous improvement in the company’s operations.

iCert is a partner of the Icelandic Tourist Board on audits and certification of Vakinn quality and environmental systems of the tourism sector. iCert is a certification body that oporates in accordance with international standards for certification bodies. iCert owners have over 25 years of experience in auditing and certification. The objective of the collaboration is to ensure independent and impartial evaluation of the implementation and operation of the systems. iCert offers participants of Vakinn both document review and certification audit. Audits and cartifications are carried out in accordance with the requirements made in the agreement between the Icelandic Tourist Board and iCert, and is based on that audits and certification procedures comply with the requirements of ÍST EN ISO 17021-1: 2015 and audits according to ÍST EN ISO 19011: 2018. iCert and iCert’s partners have great ambition for Vakinn and the tourism sector, and introduction of management system ideology, which is to promote continuous improvement, and promote an outstanding turism sector world-wide. iCert places great emphasis og providing excellent services where assessment is wheather customers systems comply to the requirements of Vakinn, but also feedback on the implementation and operation of their systems. Certified companies will be better equipped to provide their customers with quality service and promote the social responsibility of the turism sector.

An agreement with iCert on certification of Vakinn quality and environmental system is for three years in accordance with the requirements of Vakinn. The certification of Vakinn is valid for three years at a time. After the contract is made, the client will be granted access to iCert’s internal web site, where further information is available on the certification process and where customers have access to audit reports, certificates, etc. During the contract period:

  1. In the first year, document review of the quality and environmental system, as well as certification audit, is carried out
  2. In the second year, an surveillance audit is conducted
  3. In the third year, an surveillance audit is conducted
  4. Renewal of contract and re-certification

Further information on the rules applicable to Vakinn and certification of management systems can be found in iCert’s rules on certification of management systems available on its website. The estimated audit time for a document review is generally half an audit day for Vakinn general criteria, but additional time is added for specific criteria that applies to each activity provided. Estimation on audit time is dependant on criteria and number of specific criteria. Audit time for certification audits also varies depending on each specific criteria, but may also be based on other factors such as number of employees or number of accommodation. If a certification is requested for more than one specific criterion, this is taken into account to reduce the audit time. However, the final cost of audits is based on the actual audit time and the costs may be higher or lower as appropriate. iCert’s customers are notified in advance if it is considered necessary to review the audit time after the document review or other audits. For more information on fees charged, see iCert Certification Rules. At iCert’s internal website, it is also possible to find guidelines for audits times according to which criteria applies.

iCert’s quality and environmental system audits are in two stages. On the one hand, a document review and, on the other hand, a certification audit of the implementation of the system is carried out. In order to carry out document review, it is necessary for customers to provide iCert access to its Vakinn quality and environmental systems. Customers will have access to a central workspace on the iCert’s internal web site, where instructions on document review and necessary information can be found. Once iCert has carried out document review , the client receives an audit report. It may include non-conformity and requests for certain improvements. In addition iCert may point out issues that may improve performance and effectiveness of the system. Following a positive outcome of a document review, certification is granted and certification audit is organized. However, star rating for Hotels are never provided until after a certification audit. iCert’s customers are authorized to use the Vakinn mark and iCert certification mark, e.g. for marketing or promotional purposes. A sample of the Vakinn mark and the iCert certification mark can be found on the page. An certification audit is carried out in cooperation with the client, but iCert tries to keep all additional costs, e.g. due to travel, to a minimum. A certification audit is carried out to ensure that the implementation of the system is in accordance with the implementation of customers and the criteria of Vakinn. Once a certification audit has been carried out, it can be confirmed that the system meets the Vakinn criteria. In addition, hotels are awarded a star rating according to hotels criteria. Surveillance audits are generally carried out once a year, but they are less comprehensive than document review and certification audits

iCert’s partners in the Vakinn quality and environmental systems possesses decades of experience from the tourism sector, Vakinn, implementation, operation and audits of quality and environmental management systems. iCert’s consultants regarding Vakann and the domestic turism sector are Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir, former director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, while Ólöf was the director the Vakinn first launched and Ásbjörn Björgvinsson, who has over 30 years of experience in the travel sector and served in various professional services related to the tourism sector.

  • Guðmundur Sigbergsson
  • Jón Karlsson
  • Ásdís Björg Jóhannesdóttir
  • Ásbjörn Björgvinsson
  • Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir

iCert’s partners in the Vakinn quality and environmental systems possesses decades of experience from the tourism sector, Vakinn, implementation, operation and audits of quality and environmental management systems. iCert’s consultants regarding Vakann and the domestic turism sector are Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir, former director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, while Ólöf was the director the Vakinn first launched and Ásbjörn Björgvinsson, who has over 30 years of experience in the travel sector and served in various professional services related to the tourism sector.

To request a Vakinn quality and environmental certification, fill out the form below and an iCert employee will contact you at the earliest opportunity. After the request has been received, customers get access to iCert’s internal web site, where you can find more information about Vakinn, the certification process, audit time etc. Contact us today for more information.

    100 Gisting200 Ferðaþjónusta300 Umhverfisviðmið

    110 Hótel120 Gistiheimili130 Heimagisting140 Hostel150 Orlofshús og íbúðir160 Tjaldsvæði

    Óskað eftir stjörnugjöfEkki óskað eftir stjörnugjöf

    201 Léttar gönguferðir í þéttbýli og á láglendi202 Gönguferðir í dreifbýli, óbyggðum og í fjalllendi við sumaraðstæður203 Gönguferðir í fjalllendi við vetraraðstæður og á jöklum204 Skíðaferðir í fjalllendi205 Jeppaferðir206 Vélsleðaferðir207 Fjórhjóla- og buggyferðir208 Náttúruskoðun á landi209 Hellaskoðun210 Hestaferðir og hestaleigur211 Ferðaskrifstofur212 Böð og heilsulindir213 Söfn, setur og sýningar214 Skotveiði215 Sjóstangveiði216 Köfun og yfirborðsköfun (snorkl)217 Flúðasiglingar218 Kajakferðir og kajakleigur219 Bílaleigur220 Hópferðabílar221 Golf222 Upplýsingamiðstöðvar223 Reiðhjólaferðir224 Veitingastaðir og kaffihús225 Náttúruskoðun á sjó og vötnum226 Stangveiði227 Þyrluflug228 Íshellaskoðun229 Gönguferðir um skriðjökla230 Ferðaskipuleggjendur og ferðaskrifstofur sem framkvæma eigin ferðir


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