NGO Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, claims that Icelandair encouraged off-road driving in an advertisement on Norwegian website icespiration.no. The ad has since been removed and Icelandair states that it was published by mistake.
Icelandair communications director Guðjón Arngrímsson explained to ruv.is that a Norwegian company had been responsible for the ad which for some reason appeared on the web before it had been approved by Icelandair.
The airline was quick to have it removed as soon as Landvernd pointed it out yesterday, Guðjón stated, as it does not want to encourage off-road driving.
The ad’s original text read as follows (in English translation):
“If you have gasoline in your blood and love driving off-road there are plenty of opportunities for firing up that horse power in Iceland. From Reykjavík you can take a day trip on an ATV or a quad bike to the desolate areas of Hellisheiði and the Blue Mountains. Here you can drive at full speed across snow-covered lava fields, mud puddles and water pools, up and down large cliffs and mountain slopes.”
Managing director of Landvernd Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson declared the ad to be irresponsible. While appreciating Icelandair’s quick reaction, he stated this is not the only example where off-road driving in Icelandic nature is encouraged in advertisements.
“Icelandic nature is often used for advertising on totally wrong terms, painting a picture of Iceland as a country where everything is allowed and that nature can be used as a rag. I believe that a code of ethics is missing from the tourism industry and increased vigilance and solidarity is needed to counteract off-road driving,” Guðmundur commented.
Off-road driving is a growing problem in Iceland. This past summer several tourists were fined for the practice, leaving track marks in the sensitive Icelandic soil which may take years or decades to recover if nature hasn’t been damaged for good.