Eight park rangers and one project manager have lost their jobs at Þingvellir National Park this morning, as a result of income loss due to COVID-19, Vísir reports.
The dismissals were announced at a team meeting this morning, with the national park warden, Einar Ásgeir Sæmundsson, blaming the pandemic and resulting financial losses at the park. He said that letting staff go was an absolute emergency response and that the staff in question will be at the top of the list to fill vacancies when the pandemic passes and staff needs to be hired again.
The National Park has enjoyed an increased flow of visitors over recent years, resulting in much higher income than previous years, and the need for more employees to be able to offer normal services at the Park. Before this, a large number of staff was only hired over the summer months.
Einar says it did not take long for them to realise the huge impact the COVID-19 was having on operations at Þingvellir in March and April. He has been in constant contact with the Ministry of the Environment to find a solution but, despite a grant of around 127 million ISK from the state budget, it is clear that there is no more funding available.
“We got a little injection to stay in operation this year. But now it is without income, the national park will be closed with minus ISK 100 million this year,” he says. Because the park is run within a strict financial framework, there is not choice but to reduce the number of staff.
However Einar is confident that when tourists start to return, the money will be made back very quickly, thanks to car park fees, Silfra snorkelling trips and campsite fees.
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