“We think it impedes tourists too much,” says Þingvellir committee leader Sigrún Magnúsdóttir about the decision to stop charging people to use the toilets at the Hakið area of Þingvellir National Park.
The toilet charge of ISK 200 (EUR 1.35/USD 1.47) will stop being levied when charges are instead introduced for the car park. That is expected later this summer or autumn.
Sigrún told Vísir that the toilet charges have not gone according to plan; partly because some people try to get away without paying, and partly because the toll machines cause delays and have proven unreliable. “One saw lines of coach-loads of people who then never got to see Þingvellir because they were just standing in a queue to use the bathroom.”
Part of the problem has been an increase in the number of people relieving themselves outdoors—including on the external walls of the toilet block. Sigrún points out, however, that there are still free facilities elsewhere in the park.
Sigrún is not only Þingvellir committee leader, but also the Minister for the Environment and says that public hygiene facilities are a massive concern across the whole country.
“It is my job as environment minister to try and protect the country’s nature and I’m very concerned at how the situation is,” Sigrún says—adding that co-operation is the key to a solution. “I always trust the philosophy of co-operation; there must be a coordinated effort by the State, the municipalities and service providers.”
She says the problem stems from the fact that people did not predict the explosion in tourist numbers ten years ago: “But who could have done?”