Iceland is one of my favourite countries in the world. David and I loved our time there so much that we even looking into relocating there for a year or two. Unfortunately, we discovered that landing a working visa as an Australian in Iceland is pretty much impossible.
So, why am I angry at the country I so dearly love?
It’s because the country is letting tourism destroy their most unique and important tourist drawcard, the environment.
A new report shows that many of Iceland’s popular tourist destinations (such as waterfalls Skógafoss and Gullfoss) have reached their tolerance limits. That means that in a very short period of time, these beautiful attractions will be destroyed beyond repair.
Iceland’s economy thrives on the tourism boom the nature brings to the country each year but they’re not doing enough to protect it. By not providing enough signage, adequate supervision at popular spots and amenities such as bathrooms and garbage bins, the country’s environment has taken a big hit, bigger even than that of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.
Banning tourism isn’t the answer. The country’s economy so desperately depends on it. What needs to change is the way they manage and control it.
Iceland is a smart country though. So, what’s stopping Iceland from doing more to protect the environment and what’s taking them so long to act?
Unfortunately, it seems to be a bit of a blame game. No one can decide who’s at fault and where the responsibility for the environment lies as some of land that is affected is privately owned and the rest is state owned or a combination of both.
The number of tourists visiting Iceland each year is forecast to continue growing which means the small country needs to pick up their game and do more to prevent further damage.
Just last year my favourite Icelandic waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, was reported to be at damage from increased tourism. The solution that has since been implemented is a parking fee but with tourism numbers increasing year on year, that’s not going to do much in the way of preservation.
But who am I to judge? I live in a country where government after government refuses to acknowledge the severity of global warming and the importance of the Great Barrier Reef…
What do you think Iceland should do to combat environmental destruction? Let me know in the comments below!