Iceland Mag

13 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Latest news

  • Travel

    Travel website advices tourists who want to avoid "angry locals" shouldn't visit Reykjavík

    By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

    Tourists No: There is no reason to fear that you will be accosted by angry locals if you dare visit Iceland or Reykjavík. Of course Icelanders, like any other people, don't approve of disrespectful or destructive behaviour, but Icelanders understand that the actions of a few rotten apples shouldn't condemn all foreign travellers. Photo/Raffaele Piano.

    The travel website The Culture Trip has included Reykjavík on a list of "11 Angry Tourist Hotspots That Are Best Avoided This Summer". The site argues that recent weeks a "ave of anti-tourist protests" have erupted across Europe, sparked by outrage from local residents who are voicing their anger at "rising housing costs, overcrowded streets and a sense that the tourist boom benefits some more than others".

    Angry locals?
    The list includes cities like Venice and Barcelona, which have indeed seen angry protests from the local population, as well as cities like Milan, which the site admits has not seen any official protests against tourism "so far", but where the authorities are taking steps to meet growing concerns from the local population by placing some common sense limits on tourism.

    The last city on the list is Reykjavík:

    Defecating in the open air, stealing road signs and even stealing a young lamb to be cooked on a barbecue are just some of the actions of tourists that have angered locals in Iceland. Tourism here has boomed since the 2008 financial crisis practically destroyed the local economy, yet recently, local residents in cities such as Reykjavik have struggled to cope with the social and environmental impact of the industry.

    The inclusion of Iceland and Reykjavík on this list has raised some eyebrows in Iceland, sparking a renewed conversation about the social and economic impact of tourism. 

    Has tourism caused problems? Sure, of course 

    Views of foreign travellers
    Views of foreign travellers Despite 40% increase in numbers of foreign travellers between 2016 and 2017 overwhelming majority of Icelanders is still positive toward tourism. Photo/MMR/Iceland Magazine

    While it is correct that anti-social, stupid or disrespectful behavior by foreign visitors has caught the attention of locals, causing anger and frustration (who would not be frustrated at discovering a random idiot going to the toilet on his front lawn? Or in the bushes in a public park?) it is also a fact that these stories have not caused a backlash against tourism or tourists.

    The most recent poll revealed that 64% of Icelanders have a positive view of foreign travellers who visit Iceland, and just 10.4% view them negatively - a drop from 11.5% in 2016, despite the fact that the number of foreign travellers visiting Iceland this year is up as much as 40%, compared to the year before.

    Read more: 64% of Icelanders positive toward foreign travellers, just 10.4% hold negative views

    Polls show that despite the explosive growth in tourism in Iceland in the past years Icelanders continue to be overwhelmingly positive toward tourism. And what´s more, Reykjavík residents are particularly positive toward tourism. 67.5% of the residents of the Metropolitan area said they held positive views of foreign travellers. 

    There is therefore no factual basis to include Iceland on a list of places foreign visitors should avoid to stay clear of "angry locals". 

    Read more: Overwhelming majority of Reykjavík locals continues to be positive toward growing tourism

    Social and environmental impact of tourism  

    Brúarfoss walking path
    Walking path at Brúarfoss waterfall Walking paths near popular destinations have not been able to handle the increased traffic. Icelanders don't blame the tourists - they realize the problem is inadequate infrastructure. Photo/Þorgerður Sigurðardóttir

    The Culture Trip is correct, however, to point out that Icelanders are struggling to cope with the impact a booming tourism industry has had on the economy, society and nature. But most Icelanders understand that the problems, like rising housing prices and lack of infrastructure at the popular tourist destinations, can be solved by public action. People blame the authorities, not the tourists, for lack of affordable housing or inadequate walking paths at waterfalls or the lack of public lavatories along Iceland's roads.

    People also understand that while some foreign travellers have engaged in outrageous behavior, this behavior does not reflect foreign travellers as a group - or the nations of the travellers in question. When a French traveller is caught poaching in a salmon river, for example, people do not assume all foreign travellers are lawless vagabonds, or that all Frenchmen engage in poaching.

    Stories defecating travellers 

    Pooping tourist, lawn as public lavatory
    Not properly toilet trained This idiot stopped to poop on the front lawn of a farmer in S. Iceland, then strapped on his skis and proceeded to ski across the farmers lawn. When he was confronted he acted as if he had done nothing wrong. The lesson? In a group of 1.8 million foreign travellers there will be some morons who have never learned to behave as adults. Photo/Þorkell Daníel Eiríksson

    We at Iceland Magazine have covered these stories - not because we want to enrage the local population or "call out" travellers as a group or the nations of those travellers who engage in illegal, immoral or reckless behavior. We are certainly not covering them because we feel they are representative of the tourism industry as a whole. We have covered these stories because we feel it is our responsibility to draw attention to problems when they come up. These kinds of stories should serve as cautionary tales. 

    Read more: Farmer in S. Iceland fed up with disrespectful travellers treating his lawn as a public lavatory

    It should also be noted that Iceland is a small country, and these kinds of stories are extremely rare: Which is why they find their way into the news. 

    Mutual respect
    Iceland has perhaps been lucky. Iceland has not been hit with the waves of drunk revelers who have caused mayhem at many Mediterranean destinations, and with a few isolated exceptions the people who have visited Iceland have treated the country and the local population with respect. In return Icelanders have treated these visitors with the respect that one treats a guest.

    Read more: Tourism’s social influence: Are we Icelanders likely to pick up any new bad habits?

    This is at it should be, and we at Iceland Magazine certainly hope this mutual respect will continue to characterize the interaction of the local population and our guests.

  • Economy

    Population of northern Westfjords rebounds, grows for first time in decades

    By Staff

    Abandoned fjords An abandoned herring factory in Ingólfsfjörður fjord in the Strandir region on the northern coast of the Westfjords. Photo/Sara

    The population of the northern Westfjords increased by 1.16% over the past 12 months. This is the first time in decades that the population of the northern part of the Westfjords does not register a drop. The population decreased by 0.32% over the previous 12 month period. 

    An uninterrupted decline since the early 80s
    According to population data from Statistics Iceland the population of the northern part of the Westfjords increased by 80 during the period May 31 2016 to May 31 2017. Last year's population statistics showed the population dropped by 30 individuals between 2015 and 2016. The population of the Westfjords has been dropping continuously since the 1980s. 

    Read more: The population of the Westfjords continues to shrink, down by 34% in the past 34 years

    Historically at least 15% of the Icelandic population has lived in the Westfjords. In the mid-20th century the share of the population living in the Westfjords began to fall. Today less than 2% of the population lives in the region. 

    Southern Westfjords regiesterd a turnaround in 2011
    The population decline has continued until 2011 when the population of the southern part of the Westfjords grew for the first time in decades, thus arresting a trend which had seemed all but irreversible. However, the population of the northern part of the Westfjords continued to shrink. Until last year. The Population of the town of Ísafjörður, the largest urban center of the Westfjords, grew by 60 last year, and the population of the village of Bolungarvík grew by 30. 

    However, this positive trend has not extended to all of the Westfjords. The Strandir region, the northern coast of the Westfjords peninsula and the most remote region in Iceland, as well as several other primarily rural parts of the Westfjords, registered a drop of 20 inhabitants last year, the same as the year before.

  • General

    Parking fees at Seljalandsfoss waterfall cause traffic jam as visitors park along the road

    By Staff

    Parked cars everywhere Rather than use the parking lot many visitors have taken to save the small fee by parking along the road. Photo/Helgi Helgason

    Local guides have sounded alarm bells, warning that parking fees which were introduced at Seljalandsfoss waterfall earlier this summer are causing a potentially dangerous crisis at the road leading to the waterfall. Visitors, they argue, appear to be parking along the road to avoid paying the 700 ISK (6.7 USD/5.7 EUR) parking fee, contributing to a traffic jam and a potential hazard along the road.

    Read more: Parking fees introduced at Seljalandsfoss waterfall this morning, will pay for maintenance

    On July 24 the local municipality and landowners at Seljalandsfoss waterfall introduced a parking fee to pay for maintenance of the parking lot and other facilities by the waterfall. A spokesman for the local municipal government told the local news site Vísir that while the introduction of the parking fees had generated some unintended consequences, it had been generally successful, providing much needed funds to finance long awaited investments at the popular tourist destination.

    Others have pointed out that the fines appear to have created a new problem, as visitors park their cars along the side of the road, rather than pay the fee. A local guide shot the following video, showing the conditions along the stretch of road leading from the Ring Road to the waterfall.

    The Police in South Iceland is currently evaluating how to respond to the problem, saying it is not clear whether people are parking in the side of the road because they are avoiding the parking fees, or whether the cause might in some cases be that the parking lot by the waterfall was full: "When one person parks his car in the side of the road others follow."

    A spokesman for the Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority told Vísir that the IRCA and landowners would install traffic signs along the road to guide visitors to the parking lot.

  • Crime

    French traveller caught poaching in one of Iceland's most expensive salmon fishing rivers

    By Staff

    Norðurá river, mt Baula in background Norðurá is one of the best, and most expensive salmon fishing rivers in Iceland. Photo/Vísir.

    A fishing officer at Norðurá river in West Iceland caught a foreign traveller fishing in a river ladder by Glanni waterfall. Norðurá river is one of the best and most expensive salmon fishing rivers in West Iceland. In addition to being engaged in poaching the traveller was using a lure. The use of lures is banned in the river.

    Pretended not to understand a word of English
    The local news site Skessuhorn reports that shortly before ten on Monday evening the fishing officer was notified of two men fishing in the river. The officer contacted the police as well as investigating the report in person. When he arrived at the scene he discovered only one man, a French traveller who was busy fishing in the river ladder by Glanni waterfall.

    "The man was alone when I arrived at the scene. He had no fish with him, and seemed perfectly aware that he was breaking the law, since he immediately seemed not to understand a word of English when I informed him the matter had been reported to the police."

    The police arrived at the scene and interrogated the man with the help of smartphones and Google translate.

    Read more: Ask the expert: Where can I get a permit for fly fishing in Iceland?

    The man will be charged with criminal poaching by the fishing club of Norðurá, which owns the fishing rights to the river. He can expect to be slapped with a large fine before leaving the country.

  • Travel

    WOW air saw a 49% growth in July

    By Staff

    Reason to be happy Skúli Mogensen CEO and founder of WOW air should be pleased with the growth of the budget airline in the past year. Photo/Anton Brink.

    The Icelandic budget airline WOW air reports that it saw a 49% increase in the number of passengers in July of this year, compared to 2016. A total of 318,000 passengers flew with the airline in July. The airline also boasts that the average age of its fleet of airplanes is lower than that of any other European airline. The average age of WOW air planes is just 2.05 years.

    Read more: Icelandic budget airline WOW air plans direct flights to Asia in 2018

    According to a statement from WOW air the airline has seen an 103% increase in passengers during the first seven months of this year, compared to the year before. The airline currently flies to 32 destinations in Europe and North America, but will soon add destinations in Asia. In September WOW will commence direct flights between Keflavík International Airport and Tel Aviv in Israel.

  • General

    Large scale norovirus infection at scout camp: Five more have fallen sick

    By Staff

    Evacuation 181 scouts were evacuated from the scout camp in the largest medical evacuation ever carried out in S. Iceland. Photo/Jóhann K. Jóhansson.

    Five British scouts who had been among the 181 scouts who were evacuated from a scout camp by Úlfljótsvatn lake have fallen sick. The symptoms are the same as those of the disease which inflicted the dozens who fell sick early Friday morning. The campsite has been closed while public health officials carry out an investigation and disinfect the area. 

    Read more: 176 scouts evacuated and campsite closed down after unidentified poisoning

    The manager of the scout camp at Úlfljótsvatn lake south of Þingvellir National Park told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that the five scouts who fell sick yesterday were all teenagers and British nationals.

    Largest medical evacuation in S. Iceland history
    A large number of foreign scouts aged 10-25 years old was staying at the campsite when an unidentified infection, believed to be caused by a norovirus, caused a number of young people to fall ill. All the scouts were then evacuated to an emergency shelter in the town of Hveragerði in South Iceland. The operation was the largest public health evacuation ever carried out in South Iceland. 

    The five scouts who fell ill yesterday bring the total of people affected by the outbreak to 76. The vast majority of those affected are from the US and the UK.

More News