Icelanders are struggling with the ever-rising numbers of foreign visitors visiting the island year around. Estimations indicate that the increase of visitors between years is around 27% and estimated number of guests this year is around 1.3 million individuals. Iceland’s population counts 330.000 individuals and the country has a fragile nature with volatile volcanic landscape and is ill prepared to receive such a number of visitors without potential permanent damage to the nature of the island many nature conservationists warn.
Last summer news of poor conditions by the scenic spots around the island were all to common, and with the rising numbers in the tourist industry authorities must act quickly to mend the situation. In the Government budget however, there is no mention of building infrastructure in the tourist industry or increased funding for the Icelandic Tourist Board. A committee appointed by the Ministry of Industries and Innovation was to deliver a report about future vision and policy making in the industry this spring, and their findings are to be expected shortly.
The idea of the entrance fee
In the meantime much speculations about the best course of action are plenty, many are researching possible solutions, one idea sometimes mentioned is to charge a modest entrance fee into the country and use it for conservation and infrastructure at tourist sites. Anna Jónsdóttir recently completed her research on the subject for her BS degree in Business Administration, where she suggests charging an entrance fee into the country. Jónsdóttir prepared a questionnaire revolving around the question. A total of 311 individuals from four countries arriving to the county via Keflavik Airport answered her questions. Just fewer than 50% were positive towards an entrance fee. Majority of those positive toward the idea would be willing to pay five to ten euros upon entering but only 2% were willing to pay twenty euros. The purpose of the research was twofold, to evaluate the view of foreign guests towards an entrance fee to the country and to examine the views of those working with in the tourist industry in Iceland. Those were unanimously positive to the idea of a modest entrance fee into the county.