STOCKHOLM (Reuters Life!) - With its geothermal assets put in the spotlight by the volcano ash that has grounded much of Europe's air traffic, Iceland on Saturday urged visitors stranded there to take a free dip in its thermal pools.
"We have bubbling hot waters, spas, saunas and heated water pools to swim in," Svanhildur Konradsdottir, chairwoman of the Icelandic Tourist Council, said.
The tourist body said it had offered all stranded visitors free access to the capital Reykjavik's eight pools, which have temperatures ranging from 29 to 42 C (84 to 108 degrees Farenheit). Konradsdottir said the uptake had been tremendous.
"There are loads of people out and about, the response has been incredible," she told Reuters, adding that despite the volcano spewing soot into the atmosphere, the skies were sunny and blue over the city.
The eruption is taking place under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, normally a popular hiking ground about 120 km (75 miles) southeast of the capital.
A cloud of ash from the volcano has drifted southeast across Europe, grounding thousands of flights and stranding passengers worldwide.
Flights are operating on regular schedules between Iceland and the United States but service from the island nation to other destinations is limited by the airport shutdowns caused by the ash plume.
Reporting by Mia Shanley; Editing by Michael Roddy