From Iceland — Tourism Minister Responding To Reynisfjara Situation

Tourism Minister Responding To Reynisfjara Situation

Published November 18, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

In order to reduce accidents and deaths at Reynisfjara, a beautiful but at times hazardous beach in South Iceland, Minister of Tourism Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir is launching a project that will monitor some of the natural dangers of the location, along with the authority to temporarily close it in especially hazardous conditions, Fréttablaðið reports.

Reynisfjara, while beautiful, is not a beach to be trifled with. Falling rocks and sneaker waves—sudden powerful waves capable of dragging people into the undertow—are not uncommon. Most recently, a tourist who strayed too close to the surf was knocked down and injured by one such wave.

“It is unacceptable that there can be serious accidents at one of the most popular destinations in Iceland, without responding meaningfully to the situation,” Þórdís told reporters. “Some improvements have been made, but supervision is complicated, not to mention that there are guests who ignore warnings and the dangers can be very real.”

Here Þórdís is referring to the fact that not only is there a large sign in multiple languages warning people to stay away from the surf, but tour guides also give verbal warnings about taking care—yet despite this, some visitors to the site choose to do as they please, endangering themselves and others.

As such, the Minister is working on establishing a system whereby Reynisfjara is monitored more closely for particularly dangerous conditions, such as when South Iceland waves are especially high. In such conditions, the police would have the authority to close the beach to the public.

Reynisfjara actually was closed to the public due to falling rock hazards last August, but this did not seem to deter some people from visiting. At the same time, Þórdís believes these closings would be kept to a minimum, at no more than five to seven days per year.

Reynisfjara is certainly beautiful, but remember: it’s a lot more beautiful when you survive the experience unscathed, and that means giving the surf a wider berth than you may think necessary. Stay closer to where the sand and earth meet, far from the water, and the experience will be a fun one.

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