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’.
On Monday, January 26, the Minister of the Interior appointed members to the Immigration Appeals Board (Kærunefnd útlendingamála), established by law in May 2014. The board was supposed to start its operations on January 1. The board’s Chair and its staff have, according to the Ministry’s spokesperson, already begun preparations, but no appealed cases could be actually processed by the board until, presumably, now, that it is fully peopled. The board is chaired by Dr. Hjörtur Bragi Sverrisson, as announced in November 2014. The board’s other members are Professor Oddný Mjöll Arnardóttir and lawyer Anna Valbjörg Ólafsdóttir. The waiting game
A refugee from Syria, who recently arrived in Iceland, wounded himself with a knife on Tuesday. When police arrived at the bloody scene, they called for special forces backup, and subsequently made several arrests. According to DV, the arrests were made due to “linguistic problems”, before the police realised that the man had injured himself. Interviewed by DV, Björn Teitsson, the Icelandic Red Cross’ public relations manager, said that the incident indicates the pressure under which asylum applicants in Iceland live. All those arrested were subsequently released. The Red Cross emphasises that the man receive proper medial aid. The Red
On Wednesday, the EFTA court ruled against the Icelandic state in five separate cases, all concerning Iceland’s “failure to fulfil its obligations” in implementing EU regulation. One case concerned “regulation on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products”. Another verdict concerned regulation on the safety of toys, more precisely: “products designed or intended for use in play by children under 14 years of age”. The third case was about Iceland’s failure to implement “the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services”.
CEOs Kormákur Arthúrsson says that he and Sigurbjörn B. Eðvarðsson they established the company KrummiSpice to ameliorate the situation of women who have suffered acid attacks in India. Interviewed by RÚV, Kormákur said that perhaps the topic could be seen as somewhat random, but that he and his partners had stumbled upon the issue, and felt outrage over how authorities in India react to such attacks. “The mood in India is that when a woman suffers such an attack, a hideous crime, she gets asked: what did you do to deserve this? Eighty percent of those who suffer such attacks
On Tuesday, Sigurður Örn Ágústsson, vice member of Alþingi on behalf of the Independence Party, said that work conditions and pay of Alþingi members must be taken up for reconsideration. Sigurður recommends raising his own and other members’ salary. This was reported by RÚV. Sigurður claimed that the basic wages of members of parliaments in Iceland’s neighbouring countries, presumably the Scandinavian countries, were two to three times higher than average wages. Sigurður further cited the irregular working hours of MPs, which he says extend, unpaid, into evenings, nights and weekends, while “chances are that a large portion of the country’s
Jón Ólafsson, professor of philosophy at the University of Iceland, says that the interference of former Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir of a police investigation into her ministry exemplify more serious corruption in Icelandic politics than has ever been evident before. Last week, Alþingi’s ombudsman published the conclusions of his investigation into the former minister’s conduct, while in office. The report reveals and officially verifies what had already become generally known: that the minister repeatedly interfered with the investigation, through direct contact with former Police Chief Stefán Eiríksson. Stefán Eiríksson left his office following this. The minister’s assistant, Gísli Freyr