Already there are signs of whaling affecting tourism in Iceland negatively. Iceland’s government decided to resume commercial whaling last Tuesday.
Heimir Hardarson, marketing director of whale watching company Nordursiglingar in Húsavík, northeast Iceland, says tourists have already started canceling trips to Iceland.
Hardarson told Fréttabladid last night that his business is clearly being affected by Iceland’s decision to resume commercial whaling after a 17 year ban.
Last summer almost 30,000 tourists went whale watching with Nordursiglingar. The first whaler set out to sea on Tuesday, but has not caught any whale yet.
René Baldinger of Swiss travel agency Baldinger Reisen AG sent a written statement to icelandreview.com yesterday, expressing his concerns about Iceland resuming whaling.
Baldinger says: “Already today a few customers called us to see if this was really true. There are enough alternative destinations to go to.”
Minister of Environment Jónína Bjartmarz says whale hunting could have a negative impact on Iceland’s image. She says she worries about the country’s credibility. This is reported in all the main media.
Bjartmarz says there are arguments for and against whaling and that whaling is without a doubt sustainable. She says people’s views about whaling are often based on misunderstandings.
Iceland’s decision to resume commercial whaling has gotten worldwide attention. Helgi Ágústsson, Iceland’s ambassador in USA was interviewed on CNN last night, where he explained the government’s reasons for making this decision.
Fridrik J. Arngrímsson, manager of the Association of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ), told Fréttabladid that whaling will pay off, even if there is no market for whale meat.
Arngrímsson said whales in Icelandic waters compete with the fish for food, and with so many whales, the fish industry loses ISK 10 billions a year (EUR 117 million, USD 146).
To read more about whaling, click here.