Yesterday afternoon the organization of landowners at Reykjahlíð, an area in Mývatnssveit in the north of Iceland, began charging a fee of ISK 800 (EUR 5/USD 7) for access to the hot springs east of Námafjall. The fee will apply to Icelanders and foreign tourists alike.
The organization currently charges a fee for access to the Leirhnjúkur-Krafla caldera, and recently announced that a planned fee at Dettifoss waterfall would be delayed until next summer. Landowners had previously announced plans to charge fees at all three sites beginning on June 1st.
Ólafur H. Jónsson, spokesman for the landowners' organization said in an interview with Morgunblaðið that the organization does not fear a public backlash. He claims that charging a fee is an important part of protecting areas compromised by human traffic. Additionally the revenue will allow for improved accommodation for visitors, such as bathrooms. The presence of staff will also bring added safety to areas that are often as deadly as they are beautiful.
“I would be very surprised if people are against this. We are improving access and accommodation for tourists by asking them to participate in making the nature of these areas sustainable. And for that we need money,” said Ólafur.