From Iceland — Whaling Is Hurting Tourism, Industry Leaders Say

Whaling Is Hurting Tourism, Industry Leaders Say

Published June 27, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Hard To Port

With the resumption of whaling five days ago after a four-year hiatus, and the landing of the first fin whale of the season last Friday, tourism industry workers in Iceland are less than pleased.

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“In the tourism industry, both in private companies and in public polls; in letters, phone calls, and in other communications, whaling has a very precise effect, and tourism companies feel it the moment whaling enters the discussion again,” Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, executive director of the Icelandic Tourist Board, told CNN.

“It’s saddening and frustrating to hear that this company, Hvalur, intends to resume killing these animals in Iceland,” Ásberg Jónsson, CEO of Travel Connect, added. “It is very damaging to our country’s reputation. This, in turn, has repercussions for our export and tourism industries.”

The typical response given by those in favour of whaling–who, incidentally, comprise a minority of Icelanders–is that tourism numbers continued to climb while whaling is ongoing; in fact, Iceland is on track to see pre-pandemic tourist numbers this summer.

However, there is no doubt in the minds of tourism industry workers that those numbers would be higher if whaling was stopped altogether. Speaking to RÚV, Skarphéðinn Berg Steinarsson, the head of the tourism department at the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Innovation, said that they receive communications from people around the world saying that they will not be visiting Iceland specifically because of the whaling conducted here.

“It’s not good for tourism,” he said. “This definitely detracts from the willingness of some to come to Iceland. There’s no question about that.”

Tourism is arguably Iceland’s biggest industry right now. Whaling, by contrast, does not turn a profit.

This has been pointed out by Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who has said she is considering simply letting the whaling license for Hvalur hf., the sole company hunting fin whales, expire at the end of 2023.

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