Iceland tourism prepares for comeback

This year, the Iceland government is investing about 1.7 billion Icelandic krona (about $ 12.3 million) at public and private tourist destinations around the country, said Skarfedin Berg Steinarsen, director general of the Icelandic Tourist Board. Roughly 1 billion kron has been set aside for infrastructure on national parks, protected areas and large public tourist sites, while 700 million kron is going to the country’s Tourist Site Protection Fund. Investment plans were being made last year, but the government increased funding after the epidemic struck. Further investment will support port and road improvements across the country.

There are two goals of improving tourist destinations, Mr. Steinerson said in an interview, “allowing them to get larger numbers – creating parking space, walking paths, etc. – but preserving nature to ensure that the sites don’t deteriorate.” When we bring visitors back. “

The largest grants from the Tourist Site Protection Fund are supporting the construction of a viewing platform on the Bolafjal Mountains in Westfjords, he said, as well as the infrastructure at Studlagil Canyon, where new walkways, toilets and toilets as well as a viewing Platform is also being established. Information signals. These improvements are meant to keep tourists safe (the Bolafzal site has a steep cliff), while protecting the landscape from environmental damage and improving the overall visitor experience.

Studlagil Canyon is an example of an event that is not uncommon in Iceland: a site that was created not by the host, but by visitors. The canyon – which features dramatic basalt-column rocks on the banks of a glacial-fed river – was discovered “only as an attractive destination”, Mr. Steinerson said, after the river flowed to nearby construction. The hydroelectric plant became very quiet after that.

“This is one of those sites that have been created on social media,” Mr. Steinerson said. “But there is no infrastructure, no parking lot, no toilet. What happens when you start allowing 100,000 or 500,000 visitors? Everything is torn because there is nothing that is designed to accommodate. “

Now the government is working with the owners of the land to build roads, parking lots and toilets. The goal, Mr. Steinerson said, is to ensure that visitors can enjoy the site “without spoiling anything”.

The kind of infrastructure being set up in Studlagil is already in place in most of Iceland’s most established destinations, especially the Golden Circle – not far from Reykjavik, which includes some of the country’s most famous tourist destinations : Thingvellir National Park out of Gullfossalfall, Geysir Geothermal Area and other places. While the infrastructure in those areas is already quite good, Mr. Steinerson said, any areas that are particularly fragile will require constant maintenance – and money – to protect visitors from harm.

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