Land of leisure: Iceland to become one big park?

iceland-mountIceland recently announced plans to create a national park which will cover 15,000 square kilometres (3 million acres), or nearly 15 percent of the entire country. The Vatnajokull area already draws an estimated 40,000 tourists annually, according to the Telegraph.

The new park is located in the south-eastern part of the country and will be the largest in Europe when it opens. The park is remarkable not only for its size but also for the diversity of geographical features it contains. Vatnajokull is Europe’s largest glacier, and the area around it (including the existing Skaftafell national park, which will become part of the new national park) is known for its lava beds and sand flats, for its rivers and ravines, its volcanoes and its large stretches of wilderness.

The Detifoss waterfall draws huge number of tourists every year but is only one of the many attractions in the park which includes seven active volcanoes and the largest glacier in Europe.

In order to improve access to the park, construction is now underway for new visitor centres, marked trails and ranger stations.

Director-general of the Icelandic Tourist Board, Olof Yrr Atladottir, said: “National park status will protect the area against development, pollution and other human interference in order to preserve it for future generations.”

Iceland’s currency has experienced considerable weakening in recent months, which is expected to lead to an increase in tourist numbers this year.

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