Published March 22, 2013
The landowners of Geysir area are saying that fees for tourists to access Iceland’s nature hot spots should be charged as soon as possible, putting forward the idea of tourists being able to pick up a ‘nature pass’ when they enter the country, RÚV reports.
The Tourist Office of the South held a meeting in Hvolsvöllur recently to discuss the matter of charging for access to popular tourist destinations in the country. The idea has been widely considered for some time, as a means of raising funds to maintain the areas that are most impacted by increased tourism.
Some are advocating that tourist can pay a fee when entering the country, with Erna Hauksdóttir, director of the Icelandic Travel industry Association advocating for tourists to purchase a nature pass that they would have to carry on them and present, as one would fishing license. Inspectors would then be able to check that tourists have a pass in their possession.
Another option has been for the government to charge a tax to tourists, however those working in the travel and tourism industry have been skeptical about any wealth trickling down to them should such a scheme be implemented.
While many ways of charging tourists for access to Icelandic nature have been discussed, not as much attention has been paid to how legal residents or citizens of Iceland could continue to access their own country’s nature without being charged for the privilege. One might also ask whether Icelandic residents or citizens returning home from abroad on foreign passports would automatically be charged a hypothetical ‘tourist tax’.