The alleged landowners of Geysir’s geothermal area will start charging 600 ISK admission on March 10, despite reservations from the Ministry for the Environment and The Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF).
RÚV reports that the new fee will only apply to visitors 17 years old or older – those 16 or under will be admitted free.
The Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources contends that no one has the legal right to charge admission to the area, as they contend the land is owned by the state. The alleged landowners disagree, and took their decision in part as they were tired of waiting for a final decision on the matter.
SAF told reporters that whilst they fully understand the situation at Geysir, they believe that unilaterally charging admission sets a bad example. SAF managing director Helga Árnadóttir speculated a slippery slope of more and more tourist areas starting to charge access as well, saying “we would rather a simpler and more automated implementation.”
Such a solution is not yet on the table, but there is a government bill in the works – a “nature pass”, which would be one general pass for many sites of natural wonder, with funds going to their care and upkeep. The proposed pass would, if implemented, not go into effect until 2015.