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Tourist Defecation Problem Resurfaces

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Tourist Defecation Problem Resurfaces

Tourists in Reykjavík

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

“In some areas of Snæfellsnes, near places of interest that make popular rest-stops, the ground is just littered with feces and toilet paper. You have to carefully watch your step,” vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson told Vísir.

Improvements regarding toilet facilities for travelers are urgently needed.

According to him, many tourists are given the idea by their car rental service, that renting a van, and living in it for the duration of their travels around the country, is a clever idea.

In an article published in Kvennablaðið earlier in the week, Haraldur listed comments from travel website Passion Passport, that illustrated this misconception.

“The Law of Survival states that you can stop on any man’s land for a night and eat anything that grows on that land. That means that it’s completely acceptable – and legal – to sleep in your car, whether you’re on private property, in a national park, or at a designated rest stop.“

“By the end of our trip, I felt like I really communed with nature in the sense that (how do I put this delicately?) I peed in every corner of Iceland.”

“You can park the car nearly anywhere in the country and sleep in the back of it.”

“They then just park by the side of the road, and do their business right there as well. You wouldn’t even think to do this in the United States. If you sleep in your car on the highway, you will be arrested.”

Haraldur does not blame tourists for this problem, but rather believes it to be the inevitable result of changing times—but a society-wide response is nonetheless necessary.

“This needs to be addressed by improving toilet facilities, and then the car rental companies need to start showing more responsibility, and stop encouraging travelers to do this.”

Similarly he thinks that the age-old Icelandic practice of camping anywhere you please, needs to be amended.

“We Icelanders have of course long loved being able to roam free everywhere just like the sheep. But now that we have about a million more people each year, that means a million more poops every day, and that’s too many to be sustainable. So we need to build up facilities for these tourists, there’s no other solution.”

A tax or duty imposed on visitors upon arrival to Iceland would help solve the problem, Haraldur suggested. Revenue from such a fee would then go directly towards funding the construction of necessary facilities for travelers all around the country.

This is not the first time this issue has been brought to light.

Around this time last year, guide Kristín Ólöf Steinþórsdóttir, reported encountering feces and toilet paper strewn all over the ground while escorting a tour group to Laufskálavarða, near the volcano Katla in South Iceland.

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