Hjörtur Smárason is an expert in place branding and destination development and a communications strategist. He has worked for cities, regions and countries in Africa, Asia and Europe on their communications, branding, future visions and strategies. Hjörtur is the former CEO of Visit Greenland, where he was leading the development of adventure travel and sustainable tourism in one of the most remote and challenging destinations in the World.
Originally from Iceland Hjörtur has followed and been a part of the development of Iceland from a country in crisis into a tourism hotspot. He used to teach courses in Marketing and Innovation and product development at the tourism department of Holar University College. Hjörtur has worked with places in distress on their crisis communications, whether being caused by pandemics, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, economic crises, conflict or political turmoil. This includes Iceland, Nepal after the earthquakes of 2015, Greenland during and after covid, and countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Previously Hjörtur worked at an ad agency, creating award winning campaigns for brands like MasterCard and Peugeot; has written, directed and produced brand films; and been a campaign manager for a presidential candidate in Iceland. Hjörtur has also developed astronaut field training expeditions in collaboration with scientists and astronauts from NASA.
Hjörtur has a degree in anthropology from the University of Iceland; political science from Lund University in Sweden where he specialised in peace negotiations, conflict resolution and diplomacy; and in business and economic development from Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Hjörtur is a commentator in the media, a book editor and a popular keynote speaker who has given talks and run workshops in over 20 countries around the world.
Hjörtur speaks English, Icelandic and Danish fluently.