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Published April 9, 2014

Icelanders put a price tag on their nature for the first time, ever

Icelanders put a price tag on their nature for the first time, ever

In June last year, something unprecedented happened here in Iceland: a group of private landowners erected a barrier fence and started charging people to gain access to Kerið, a volcanic crater lake located on their property in Grímsnes, South Iceland. Their claim was that the boom in foot traffic has damaged Kerið and that they needed to charge admission to protect and preserve it.

Up until this point, Icelanders enjoyed nearly unrestricted access to both privately and publicly owned nature sites, be they volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, rock formations, or geysers—due in large part to the spirit of one short, but powerful paragraph in the country’s “Nature Conservation Law.” Although it speaks specifically to freedom of movement, this law underlines an intrinsically Icelandic principle: a parcel of land might be privately owned, but the country and all its natural wonders belong to all Icelanders.

The actions of the Kerið landowners were historically and socially significant. However, it was not until this year, when the landowners of more high-profile tourist spots such as Geysir and Dettifoss announced their own similar plans, that people—including representatives of the tourist industry, members of parliament and average citizens—began to protest.

Many (if not most) people agree that the spike in foreign visitors travelling to Iceland and visiting natural sites puts the country’s pristine nature at risk and that preservation efforts need to be stepped up if anyone—whether Icelandic or foreign—is going to enjoy it in the future. But they are far from unified on how to address this issue. While other landowners plan to follow in Kerið’s footsteps, the government is moving forward with an altogether different and equally unpopular fee-collection method called the Nature Pass.

This is a complex issue encompassing many voices and moving parts, and one which has yet to be fully examined by the media. So the following is our attempt to deconstruct it, looking at the legal precedent, alternative methods of implementation, public opinion and more.

IS THIS EVEN LEGAL?
EXAMINING ICELAND’S CONSERVATION LAW

—Anna Andersen

It seems clear that people now have to pay for the privilege of gaining access to Icelandic nature. What’s not clear, however, is if this is actually legal. The potential hang-up is one of Iceland’s oldest laws, dating back more than 700 years. Today the law is contained within Iceland’s Nature Conservation Law (“Lög um náttúruvernd”).

Chapter 4.18 states: “People are permitted, without expressed permission from landowners or rights holders, to walk, ski, skate and use a non-motorised sled or travel in a comparable fashion through non-cultivated land and stay there. Under special circumstances though, it is permissible to put up signs on gates and steps to restrict or ban people from passing through or staying on fenced off, uncultivated land in the country if it is necessary for utilising or protecting it.”

Aside from former Minister of the Interior and current MP Ögmundur Jónasson encouraging the public to join him at Geysir to protest what he deems illegal fee collection based on this law, it has received little attention in the debate about how to best raise funds for the preservation of Iceland’s nature.

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THE NATURE PASS AND ITS DISCONTENTS

Jonathan Pattishall

For all the controversy surrounding the proposed Nature Pass legislation, there has been precious little information available as to what the law would specifically entail. Based on recent interviews with officials in the Ministry for Industries and Innovation, which is responsible for drafting the Nature Pass legislation, as well as on comments from members of a consultation group assembled by the ministry to propose ideas for the Nature Pass, a clearer image has finally emerged, of a surprisingly simple law.

According to the Ministry of Industries and Innovation, if the Nature Pass is approved by Alþingi in a form similar to the current proposal, Icelanders and foreign tourists alike will be required to pay for access to all nature sites owned by the Icelandic government. Revenue raised in this manner would be placed in a Nature Pass fund and doled out for various purposes, principally the maintenance of existing sites within the Nature Pass system and the development of new sites in more seldom-visited parts of the country. The funds could then be used for footpath construction and erosion control, as well as for infrastructure development, including roads, parking lots and bathrooms.

Municipalities as well as private landowners or landowners’ associations may voluntarily include their lands in the Nature Pass system, but would not be required to. If they did, they would gain access to a share of the Nature Pass fund, but would no longer be allowed to charge entry fees at their nature sites.

The pass, which will likely be available for purchase online and at select locations in Iceland, would cost the same for tourists and Icelanders alike: 2,000 ISK for a four-day pass, 3,000 ISK for four weeks, or 5,000 ISK for five years. There would be no turnstiles or fences at the sites; visitors would instead be subject to random spot checks by officials, and those without a Nature Pass would be subject to a fine. The Ministry for Industries and Innovation may also develop a smartphone app that would allow tourists to purchase one on site.

Alþingi will vote on a 12-year funding plan with a general overview of where funds are needed. The Ministry for the Environment, in collaboration with a committee that includes representatives of private landowners, municipalities and The Icelandic Travel Industry Association, will come up with more specific three-year funding plans that take into account shifting priorities or emerging needs. It will also determine which additional programmes should receive funding—such as the volunteer-based Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue, which often comes to the aid of tourists.

Stakeholders Meet 
And Discuss

A handful of privately funded studies from 2013 provided the initial concept that eventually developed into today’s Nature Pass proposal. Chief among these was the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report, “Northern Sights: The future of tourism in Iceland,” which was endorsed by the current Progressive/Independence coalition government. The authors of the report concluded that “a multi-site access charge achieves more of the objectives than the alternatives” (see “Highlights From The BCG Report”).

This opinion was widely accepted by the time the Ministry for Industries and Innovation invited stakeholders to meet and contribute ideas to the Nature Pass law, according to Þorsteinn Svavar McKinstry, one of those stakeholders and a member of the Iceland Tourist Guide Association’s board of directors. “Most everyone is determined to do this, but we have slightly different ideas of how it should be done,” Þorsteinn says.

The consultation group met a total of four times starting in November of last year. Each meeting lasted just a few hours. It was never the goal to co-write a draft of the legislation at these meetings. Rather, individual stakeholders were there to represent the interests of their various groups—including, among others, Promote Iceland, the Environment Agency of Iceland, the Association of Icelandic Municipalities, and Samút, an organisation for outdoor enthusiasts.

Valgerður Rún Benediktsdóttir, the director general of the Ministry for Industries and Innovation, was present at each meeting, taking notes and compiling ideas. These ideas were transformed by the ministry into the draft proposed above, which will be vetted in a cabinet-level meeting and then sent to parliamentary committees for further changes or approval. Once that step occurs, the law will be presented to Alþingi and published for public review.

Nothing Is Not An Option

According to Ingvar Pétur Guðbjörnsson, a political advisor in the Ministry of Industries and Innovation, the need for more regulated access to Icelandic nature is obvious, as is the need for new funds to protect that nature. “We went from around 300,000 tourists in 2003 to almost 900,000 last year,” Ingvar says. “So if we do nothing, there might not be very much nature to sell here in the coming years.”

Beyond preserving frequently visited attractions such as those on the Golden Circle, Nature Pass funds would encourage improvements to sites outside of Southwest Iceland. “There are countless smaller spots that need facilities or upgrades,” Þorsteinn says, providing the example of Jökulsárgljúfur in the Vatnajökull National Park. “There’s a parking lot, a bench and a picnic table there, but there are no toilet facilities. You can walk around for days and not see a single toilet.”

Proponents of the Nature Pass believe that it will also help balance the geographical distribution of tourists. “This actually provides an incentive for landowners to take spots that have been closed, because they’re inaccessible or unsafe, and build them up,” Þorsteinn says. These improvements, combined with the package-deal model of the Nature Pass, make tourists more likely to visit the new sites, reducing congestion at the most popular destinations.

The Nature Pass also avoids the problem of long queues caused by single-site access fees, since most visitors will buy their passes in advance and will theoretically only need one pass to visit most sites. “If you come to Iceland, you don’t want to see fences and guards selling tickets everywhere,” Ingvar says. “That’s not something many of us want.”

Some critics of the Nature Pass model have argued that the government should instead simply raise the tax rate on the tourist industry, particularly hotels and airlines. Ingvar counters that this would result in an unfair cost distribution. “People coming to Reykjavík for a meeting and not going to Gullfoss and Geysir would have to pay higher taxes,” he says. “With the Nature Pass, those who visit the sites pay for protecting them.” This problem is compounded when it comes to taxes on plane tickets. The average Icelander flies to, from and within Iceland more often than the average tourist, even if she visits fewer nature sites. Based on calculations made by an economist in the ministry, Ingvar says that generating revenues for a nature fund through a surcharge on airfare as opposed to the Nature Pass would increase the share Icelanders pay from 13% to 40%.

One big question mark hanging over the Nature Pass plan is whether many private landowners of popular nature sights will opt into the system. After all, if participation is entirely voluntary, and these owners think they can earn more by charging on their own, why would they sign up?

The BCG report optimistically cites the supposedly unique advantages of the Nature Pass for private landowners, including centralised administration, free marketing and increased access to visitor data. However, all of these goods and services could be purchased with enough privately raised revenue. Yet Ingvar believes that if landowners raise their prices too high in the pursuit of profit, they will start seeing fewer visitors. “They will also have to pay salaries and build fences and all sort of things that they won’t have to do if they’re a part of the Nature Pass system,” he adds. It’s one more factor that Nature  Pass proponents think will give them a competitive advantage over—and possibly even help them supplant—landowners who continue to privately manage their sites.

New Ideas For 
New Problems

Þorsteinn sees reflexive stubbornness in the opposition to the Nature Pass model. “People are afraid of new things,” he says. “If you come up with a new idea, a group of people who don’t like change will just say ‘no.’ But the Nature Pass model, if we finish it and it works, will benefit everybody.”

If the Ministry of Industries and Innovation can convince the critics and sceptics in the Alþingi committees of the wisdom of the Nature Pass, then Ingvar is confident the necessary planning can be completed in time for the proposed launch date in January 2015. “If we can put the bill through parliament before the end of this session, we will have seven or eight months. In that time I’m sure we can put up a website and do everything we need to do. That’s the idea, at least.”

THE OTHER OPTIONS

—Larissa Kyzer

According to many sources, the idea of the Nature Pass has, in one iteration or another, been floating around in the Icelandic ether for at least a few years. But while it’s become the fee-collection method of choice for many prominent politicians and “stakeholders,” it was hardly the only option on the table. So what were some of the others? At least one substantive report was commissioned to review, though not specifically advocate for, various fee-collection options: The “Overview of Fee Collection Methods” which was produced by the Icelandic consulting group Alta at the behest of the Icelandic Tourist Board (hereby referred to as the Alta report). Here’s a summary of its survey.

Departure Or Arrival Fee

In this collection scheme, anyone travelling into or out of the country is charged a flat fee. This fee applies to both citizens and foreigners alike. Countries that use this method often simplify the process by making airline companies collect the fee as a ticket surcharge. Some countries collect the fee directly from travellers at the airport instead. Departure or arrival fees can also be collected at other points of entry, such as cruise ship ports.

Single-Site Admission Fees

Many countries charge some form of admission fee for entrance to natural sites, particularly national parks or protected areas. These fees do not preclude additional charges, service fees, or points of sale once within the park. The Alta report cites studies in Australia and Tasmania, which show that admission fees are met with more approval by guests if they go directly to the park or preserve rather than a general state fund.

Fee For Overnight 
Accommodation

Fees added to the cost of overnight lodging are rather common whether they are charged per person, per room, per apartment, etc. There are also often different levels of fees attached to different kinds of lodgings as determined by quality—so the fee for a suite in a full-service spa, for instance, will be higher than that on a tent at a campground or a bed in a common room in a hostel.

Car Rental Fee

At least 38 states in the US include an added fee on car rentals. (The Alta report does not indicate if car rental fees are charged in other countries.)

Cruise Ship Fee

Many countries that experience a high volume of cruise ships charge associated fees, either per-passenger or per night of portage. These fees are generally used to build up and maintain port infrastructures and facilities, as well as for nature conservation purposes.

Travel Authorisation Fee

Travel Authorisation Fees are collected in several countries from travellers who do not need visas for short travel or stays, but still require some form of entrance authorisation.

Multi-Level Value Added Taxes (VATs) On Tourism-Related Services

Most countries in the EU apply multiple levels of VAT to various services and products within and related to the tourism industry. The EU averages cited in the Alta report are 10.8% VAT on accommodation and 21.2% on other services.

Some scholars analysing the tourism industry believe that adjustment to Iceland’s current VAT levels would generate the necessary funds to build up tourism infrastructures and effectively address nature conservation issues. In Iceland, the current VAT on hotels is 7%, which is not only lower than the EU average, but also significantly lower than in other Nordic nations (hotel VAT in Denmark and Sweden is 25%). Iceland’s hotel VAT was reduced to 7% in 2007 in order to help boost the industry, as it was quite expensive to travel to Iceland as a tourist in the years of the pre-crash króna. The previous government had intended to raise the hotel VAT to 25.5% but met with significant pushback on this issue, and so decided instead to simply return to what it was prior to 2007: 14%. This VAT stabilisation would have gone into effect in 2013. When the current coalition government lead by Sigmundur Davíð came into power in 2013, however, the stabilisation was entirely scrapped, and Iceland’s hotel VAT will remain at 7% indefinitely.

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BUILDING “DESTINATION ICELAND”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP REPORT

—Larissa Kyzer

In September 2013, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published a report called “Northern Sights: The future of tourism in Iceland.” The report was commissioned by a consortium of private companies in the tourism industry claiming a “strong stake in Iceland’s future success as an attractive, growing, and sustainable tourist destination,” notably Icelandair Group, Isavia (the company which operates Iceland’s airports, including Keflavík and the Reykjavík Domestic), Blue Lagoon and Europcar.

Targetting a set of “tourist segments,” types of travellers “for whom Iceland has a strong intrinsic appeal” (Affluent Adventurers, Older Relaxers, Emerging Market Explorers, City Breakers, and MICE—or Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events—visitors), the report projected that, for the first time ever, tourism would overtake fishing as Iceland’s largest export sector in 2013. It would therefore present a series of “significant challenges” (and, it goes without saying, opportunities for economic exploitation). So BCG presented a “future vision for Icelandic tourism.” A pivotal component of this vision? An “Environment Card” which they claim “delivers the optimum balance between feasibility, fairness, efficiency, and capacity to raise significant funds.”

Now, it isn’t impossible that a privately-funded foreign report would be able to furnish some useful ideas regarding Iceland’s “untapped opportunities,” but it’s difficult to deny that with prominent backers in the airline industry, the report’s findings are far more likely to be biased toward say, a “multi-site access charge” (the Nature Pass model) over a surcharge added to airline tickets. And while there were a handful of other reports which outlined the pros and cons of various fee collection options, this is the only one that has been endorsed by key members of the Icelandic government.

Yep: both Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Minister of Industry and Commerce Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir contributed glowing forewords to the BCG report. For his part, Sigmundur Davíð stated that he “welcome[d] this important contribution…[which] provides a clear view on some of the key questions we need to answer as a nation.” Ragnheiður Elín noted that “some landowners and firms are already charging for access to certain areas, but we have yet to formulate a comprehensive strategy for Iceland as a destination.” And so, she says, she is “delighted that Icelandic tourism operators should join forces” on such an “ambitious” report.

So, let’s take a look at a few highlights from this clear-eyed, ambitious “future vision,” shall we?

Product Iceland

In the “Product Development” section (the product being Iceland) the report states that there are two “key areas” in which Iceland “could improve its use of existing assets.” These areas are better management of “visitor flow” and congestion and the development of “existing attractions.” At the moment, it seems, Iceland (that is, Icelandic nature) is not doing enough to hold its viewers’ attention:

“A typical visit to Gullfoss might consist of a walk down the path from the car park to the lower viewing areas (20 minutes with photos); a walk to the higher viewing areas (20 minutes with photos); and a potential visit to the shop and cafe (0 – 30 minutes)…the average tourist may wish that there was more opportunity to engage in activity while admiring the extraordinary falls.”

It then falls on individual site managers and owners to concoct time-killers and added “attractions” near to these “extraordinary” but not sufficiently captivating natural wonders. As an example, the report points out the success of tourism managers around the Dead Sea.

“The Dead Sea has a fairly limited natural offer,” it reads. “The recommended maximum floating time is just 10 minutes. Even adding time to purchase and cover yourself in the famous Dead Sea mud, the whole experience lasts barely an afternoon.” But this is where Jordanian tourism operators have excelled. Not only are there hotel resorts in the area which offer “private access to the sea,” but there are also “a full range of complementary activities, including sports, spas, food options, and evening entertainment.”

That’s what Þingvallavatn has been missing. Exclusive beach access and evening entertainment.

“Special, temporary exhibits”

Building on the idea of site development, BCG pushes hard for site managers to develop “value-added services” to help boost their revenues. “While the card would provide free entry,” reads the report, “sites would be able to develop new and engaging products for which visitors would be willing to pay extra. Many museums operate this way,” they explain, with the entry fee gaining visitors access to “all standard exhibits” and then “special temporary exhibits added on, often with high price tags.”

Iceland’s gift to the world

These are, of course, only snippets of a 70-page report. But while BCG claims that environmental conservation needs to be a primary concern of any future tourism development and that “there are risks of growing too far, too fast,” the overall tone of its report is one of unabashed, optimistic entrepreneurship. As represented here, Iceland is poised (again) on the brink of incredible economic success, thanks entirely to its fantastic luck at having so many exploitable natural resources. “The story of Iceland’s tourism sector is much like that of its geothermal energy,” reads the conclusion. “Dormant for many years, with considerable untapped potential, it is now all fired up and ready to go.”

Ending on a poetic note, the report quotes Gustave Flaubert (“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”) and suggests that Iceland is uniquely situated to “turn a brash tourist into a humble supplicant to the wonders of nature.”

“Tourism,” we’re told, “is one of Iceland’s gifts to the world.”

THE OWNERS WEIGH IN

—Ben Smick

The landowners associations that have started or plan to start charging visitors for access to natural sites are in various states of scepticism, disbelief and outrage over the government’s proposed Nature Pass. Their opinions seem to boil down to a general mistrust of the government and a fear that money collected by the State won’t actually go into preserving their sites. The vagueness of the Nature Pass plans, in particular with regard to how exactly the money raised from the pass will be divided up and allocated to Iceland’s many natural attractions, has landowner associations concerned that the money will stay close to Reykjavík and be used for other State projects.

30ae359504d84e3 GEYSIR

Owner: The State and Landeigendafélagið Geysir (“Landowners Association of Geysir”)

Date started charging: March 15, 2014

Cost: 600 ISK, 17 & younger get in free

Opinion on proposed Nature Pass:

“We need to raise money to build up the site so that we can actually welcome all these guests while making sure that the area won’t deteriorate. Until there’s a real plan in place for the Nature Pass, we can’t form an opinion on it one way or another. We can’t look into it until there’s something final, more than just a theory.” – Landeigendafélagið Geysir Spokesperson Garðar Eiríksson

dba0e87dd15e7c6 DETTIFOSS, NÁMASKARÐ AND LEIRHNJÚKUR

Owner: Landeigendafélags Reykjahlíðar ltd. (“Landowners Association of Reykjahlíð”)

Date to start charging: June 1, 2014

Cost: 800 ISK

Opinion on proposed Nature Pass:

“I am TOTALLY against it! I would be very happy to see it go through parliament, just because it’s out of the blue. It’s unbelievable. It’s a joke. In my 12 years of experience, the further you get from Reykjavík the less money you get from the State or funds located in Reykjavík. We can’t wait 50 years to get money to protect our area in Reykjahlíð. That’s the key point. Our main goal is that nature is preserved, and we can do it much better at home than anybody in an office in Reykjavík.”

-Landeigendafélags Reykjahlíðar Chair Ólafur H. Jónsson.

23dabb29e53ddb53 KERIÐ

Owner: Kerfélagið (“The Kerið Association”)

Date started charging: June 2013

Cost: 350 ISK (Note: nobody is there to collect admission during the off-peak season)

Opinion on proposed Nature Pass:

“We are completely against the Nature Pass because we don’t believe that the government will really use the money to preserve nature. For example, the government tax on gasoline is supposed to go into preserving roads, but only a small part of that goes to its original purpose. We think it is best that the maintenance of the environment be in the hands of individual owners, who could easily band together with their neighbours to make passes of their own. That way somebody visiting North Iceland doesn’t have to pay for Kerið or Gullfoss. Rather than trying to introduce a nationwide Nature Pass, the government could start charging at a few of its most frequented sites, such as Þingvellir. For instance, if the State charged 600 ISK for admission to Þingvellir, it would make 400 million ISK a year. The travel industry has never seen such money. Put 150 million of that into the park and distribute the rest to other State-owned sites around Iceland. Then, down the road when their pass is working, the State could try to convince private companies, individuals and local communities to join.”

-Kerfélagið Chair Óskar Magnússon

HERE’S WHERE THINGS GET MURKY
ICELAND VS. THE LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION OF GEYSIR

On March 15, The Landowners Association of Geysir began charging visitors an entrance fee of 600 ISK. Everyone from tourists to politicians were immediately outraged over the development. Many lamented that the Iceland experience had changed for the worse, some said the operation was ill thought-out and poorly executed and others argued that it was simply illegal due to the right of public access to the wilderness laws. To calm everybody down a bit by giving them a whole lot more to scream about, the Icelandic State hired the Landslög law firm to sue the Landowners Association of Geysir to stop them from charging visitors, at least until the government’s Nature Pass is all figured out.

The State claims that, according to a bill of sale from 1935, the Icelandic government is the independent owner of a 23,048 square metre plot of land within the 176,521 square metre area that it owns jointly with the Landowners Association. In fact, as the Geysir Centre website states, an Icelander called Sigurður Jónasson bought the Geysir area in 1935 and gave it to the Icelandic people: “Until 1894 it [Geysir] was part of the nearby farm Laug. Its occupants sold it then to James Craig, who later became Minister to North Ireland. During this period, visitors were charged an entry fee. After further changes in ownership, Sigurdur Jonasson bought the thermal field and gave it as a gift to the people of Iceland.”

As a co-owner of the larger area in question, the State asserts that The Landowners Association of Geysir doesn’t have the right to start charging a fee without its consent, especially since it is the sole owner of all of the good bits anyway (the State’s independently-owned plot contains the geysers: Geysir, Strokkur and Blesi). “According to Icelandic law, if you own land with others you must have a meeting with all the owners before you can decide to implement a fee, which they haven’t done,” explains Ivar Pálsson, the attorney representing the Ministry of Industry.

The case goes to court on April 3 (the day this issue goes to the printers). Until a verdict is reached, The Landowners Association of Geysir plans to continue charging admission and has done so with the exception of the day that the former minister of the interior and current MP Ögmundur Jónasson announced he would be showing up and refusing to pay admission, urging the public to join him in protest of what he says is illegal.

VOX POP: THE PEOPLE SPEAK AT BÆJARINS BEZTU PYLSUR

Interviews by Yasmin Nowak and Jonathan Pattishall

5954366441_a1d18d355e (2)

chantal CHANTAL PORTHAULT (Switzerland)

Should it cost money to go to nature sites in Iceland?

No. We paid recently to see Geysir and we think it’s not right. I don’t want to pay to see something from nature. If I go to see a museum, or houses with grass roofs, it’s normal to pay, because humans have to do something to make sure it looks clean and okay. But for nature sites? No, that’s not normal.

If the hot dog stand was a part of the Nature Pass package, would you be more or less likely to buy a pass?

What? If I have to pay? We’re from Switzerland. If this place was in the national parks? No. It’s good, but it should stay here. You can’t put a hot dog stand in a national park.

runar2 RÚNAR SIGURÐSSON (Iceland)

What do you think about charging for entry to nature sites in Iceland?

I don’t like it. I don’t like the way they charge for it. They want to charge money at each site; that’s crazy. A pass is good, so everybody can pay without being charged everywhere. That’s so crazy. The tourists would be so upset if they were taking money everywhere.

How much would you be willing to pay to visit a site?

I don’t want to pay to visit Gullfoss, I don’t want to. I understand it costs money to run the toilets, so somewhere they must charge money, but I don’t want to pay when I go visit Gullfoss. Simple as that.

andrew ANDREW SHIRBIN (Australia)

Do you think it should cost money to visit nature sites in Iceland?

I guess it depends on what the money goes to. If it goes to support the sites themselves, then yes, absolutely, to ensure they’re maintained and kept good for people to visit in the future.

Should tourists and Icelanders pay the same amount?

I guess so. If they visit, then they are theoretically running down the sites. It’s just my suspicion, but maybe some of their taxes go to natural upkeep, so in that case, maybe they should pay less. I guess there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

If the hot dog stand was a part of the Nature Pass package, would you be more or less likely to buy a pass?

Much more! I’d probably pay about five times the price. I really like the hot dog stand. It’s the first place we came to yesterday, and we’re back today. We each had like two or three hot dogs yesterday, and my friend Joe is working on another couple here.

solkatla SÓLKATLA ÓLAFSFDÓTTIR (Iceland)

Do you support the Nature Pass?

Yes, I just think it’s a great idea. We have to charge for these things, and this is a great way for tourists to pay rather than to be charged for each and every place.

Should Icelanders have to pay?

No.

If you had to pay, would you?

I would hesitate. If it was something like 500 ISK I would pay, but no more.

Do you think the facilities and infrastructure at the nature sites are in good shape?

Yes, they are probably okay as they are now. But I’m Icelandic, so I don’t go there all the time.

If the hot dog stand were a national park, would you pay to visit it?

Yes, probably.

serena SERENA FIACCO (Switzerland)

If you had to pay to visit nature sites in Iceland, how much would you pay?

A lot, actually, because it’s worth it.

Would you rather pay at each site, or buy a card that gives you access everywhere?

I think I would prefer the card, because you feel like you have the opportunity to go everywhere.

Should Icelanders and tourists pay the same amount?

Well, Icelandic people probably shouldn’t pay so much, since it’s their country. I think it’s okay if tourists pay a little more, but not three times what the local people pay.

If the hot dog stand were a national park, would you pay to visit it?

Um, I am kind of paying to visit it, because I could have a cheaper hot dog somewhere else.

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