Iceland Tourism Prepares for a Comeback

This yr, the Icelandic authorities is investing roughly 1.7 billion Icelandic krona (about $12.three million) in infrastructure at each private and non-private vacationer spots throughout the nation, stated Skarphedinn Berg Steinarsson, director common of the Icelandic Tourist Board. Roughly 1 billion krona has been put aside for infrastructure at nationwide parks, protected areas and enormous public vacationer websites, whereas 700 million krona goes into the nation’s Tourist Site Protection Fund. The investments have been already being deliberate final yr, however the authorities elevated the funding after the pandemic hit. Further investments will assist harbor and highway enhancements all through the nation.

The enhancements at vacationer websites have two objectives, Mr. Steinarsson stated in an interview, “allowing them to receive bigger numbers — creating parking spaces, walking paths, etc. — but also preserving the nature to make sure that the sites will not be worn down when we get the visitors back.”

The largest grants from the Tourist Site Protection Fund are supporting the development of a viewing platform on Bolafjall Mountain within the Westfjords, he stated, in addition to infrastructure at Studlagil Canyon, the place a viewing platform is being put in in addition to new walkways, bathrooms and knowledge indicators. These enhancements are supposed to preserve vacationers protected (the Bolafjall web site options a steep cliff), whereas additionally defending the panorama from environmental injury and enhancing the general customer expertise.

The Studlagil Canyon is an instance of a phenomenon that’s not unusual in Iceland: a web site that was created not by the hosts, however by the guests. The canyon — which options dramatic basalt-column cliffs lining the banks of a glacial-fed river — was “discovered” as a gorgeous vacation spot solely lately, Mr. Steinarsson stated, after the river’s move was made a lot calmer following the development of a close by hydroelectric plant.

“This is one of those sites that are created on social media,” Mr. Steinarsson stated. “But there’s no infrastructure there, no parking sites, no toilets. What happens when you start allowing 100,000 or 500,000 visitors? Everything gets torn down because nothing is designed to accommodate that.”

Now the federal government is working with the homeowners of the land to construct pathways, parking areas and bathrooms. The objective, Mr. Steinarsson stated, is to make sure that guests can benefit from the web site “without spoiling anything.”

The type of infrastructure being put in at Studlagil is already in place at most of Iceland’s extra established locations, notably within the Golden Circle — an space not removed from Reykjavik that features among the nation’s most well-known vacationer locations: Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area and Thingvellir National Park, amongst different spots. While the infrastructure in these areas is already pretty good, Mr. Steinarsson stated, any areas which can be notably fragile will want continuous maintenance — and funding — to guard in opposition to injury from guests.

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