ICELAND EXPERIENCES TOURIST BOOM
How tourism saved Iceland from an economic disaster, but it threatens to turn into an environmental disaster
Iceland can not cope with the influx of tourists. Last year alone, about two million travelers visited the country, which is almost six times more than local residents. The population of Iceland is about 334 thousand people. Keblavik Airport, 50 km from Reykjavik, already hardly accepts anyone who wants to see ice caves, volcanoes, northern lights, and other riches of the elves’ homeland. Therefore, the government is going to invest a billion dollars only to expand the transportation hub.
In the first place in the country of ice go for nature. “It is not difficult to explain why Iceland has become such an attractive destination … There is the largest ice cap in Europe, beautiful and powerful waterfalls, most active volcanoes. There are dead ends and kamenushki, there are wild rocky shores and black lava beaches, desert plateaus and incredible geothermal sources, ”says photographer Theo Bosbom, author of the January issue of GEO, winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year and other international photo contests.
“Waterfall of God” – one of the main attractions of the northern part of the island. It looks especially picturesque in the winter when the water freezes and ice blocks hang in the abyss. At another point on the island, on the black beach, Vik was shooting the episodes of Game of Thrones. This place fans of the series know how the ridge “Fangs of Frost”.
Another curiosity of Iceland is the elves. Local residents believe in the existence of a “hidden narod” so much that they are ready to defend its interests. There are even elf rights advocates in the country. They very seriously come to rallies and protest against the construction of roads, airports and any objects that may disturb the invisible inhabitants of a fabulous country.
However, such respect does not prevent local earn on invisible neighbors. Entrepreneurial Icelanders have come up with a route to places of elves and now lead tours of homes, schools and universities of creatures. Unlike the local guests of the country, they do not experience elves and as a result such campaigns turn into trampled by grass and rubbish that visitors leave behind. Local crowds of people and traffic jams from tourist buses, of course, do not like. The inhabitants of the island believe that tourists harm its fragile nature of the island ,. However, the tourists themselves complain about the crowded hotels and restaurants, and the crowds of tourists in the reserves in the high season.
In 2010, tourism helped Iceland get out of the economic abyss, after a couple of years ago, the country’s three largest banks closed. Then the government made a bet on tourism and did not lose. Relatively small taxes for owners, coupled with untouched nature and safety, attracted those who used to rest in France, Spain, Mexico and Latin America to Iceland.
But this year everything can change. In 2018, the Icelandic authorities will abolish tax breaks for tourists, so the restaurateurs and hoteliers are already raising prices. The cost of rest in the country may increase by four percent. The cost of an eight-day trip to the country of ice can be compared to a two-week active holiday in New Zealand, says Clive Stacy, the founder of the British travel agency Discover the World. At the same time, the Ministry of Tourism of Iceland believes that the rise in prices for holidays in the country will not scare off tourists. If their number falls, then no more than two percent, according to the department.