From Iceland — Icelanders Important For Faroese Tourism Industry

Icelanders Important For Faroese Tourism Industry

Published July 17, 2020

Nico Borbely

Icelandic tourists have proved invaluable to supporting the industry on the neighboring nation of the Faroe Islands, Fréttablaðið reports. “About a month ago, there just weren’t any foreign tourists on the streets here, but now a few are starting to come back. I’ve been told by the main Faroese tourism operators that although there aren’t many tourists right now, it’s a sign that things could pick up later on in the summer,” says Benedikt Jónsson, Iceland’s Consul General in the Faroes.

The Faroe Islands currently have similar rules for tourists arriving at their borders as Iceland. All arriving passengers older than twelve must be tested upon arrival, though they will not have to pay for it themselves through the month of July.

Benedikt says that the Faroese are cautious, which is likely due to the success of operations handling the local epidemic. A total of 188 confirmed cases have been recorded in the Faroe Islands, none of which proved fatal. One infection was confirmed early this month, at which time there had been none recorded since April.

“The Faroese want to preserve this success by all means possible,” Benedikt explains. In mid-June the Faroese borders were opened to passengers from Denmark, Germany, Greenland, Icealand, and Norway, which has subsequently been amended to include all European Union and Schengen Area member states, plus the United Kingdom.

“Local tourism industry representatives have said that Icelandic tourists matter a lot in the context of reopening the borders. There are still not many tourists here, but up to half of them are probably Icelanders,” says Benedikt.

A new hotel opened in the Faroese capital of Tórshavn in early June, and Benedikt has been informed that over half of its guests so far have been Icelanders. “There are many tourists staying in this area near the consulate. One meets a lot of Icelanders here these days, and we’ve gotten a number of inquiries about that. Whether there are restrictions, and how similar or dissimilar they are to those in Iceland.”

Benedikt assumed his position as Icelandic Consul General in the Faroes last September. He says that his reception there has been exceptional. He will have to wait a bit, however, to experience Ólavsøka, the country’s biggest summer festival on July 28th and 29th, which features boat races, football games, parades, concerts, art exhibitions, traditional Faroese chain dancing and ballad singing, official speeches, and other events, widely considered to be the country’s national day along with its flag day on April 25th.

“Life goes on here for the most part. However, the Faroese are well-aware of the situation and have, for example, canceled all large gatherings on Ólavsøka. It hasn’t been completely scrapped, but it will take place with a radically different format.”

People thought of Ólavsøka right away at the beginning of the pandemic, and had a hard time thinking that it might not happen. “There will be a special schedule on television and set up all the events there that would have taken place in town. Of course, it won’t be the same.”

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