Landowners by Helgafell mountain, near the town of Stykkishólmur, West Iceland, have begun charging visitors a fee of ISK 400 (USD 3.60, EUR 3.30). The proceeds will be used to build restrooms, enlarge the parking lot and to hire an attendant, mbl.is reports.
Jóhanna Kristín Hjartardóttir, one of the landowners, stated, “The place has deteriorated quite a bit due to the large number of tourists who come here, and unless something is done, it won’t have much of a draw in the future.” Many people hike up the mountain to enjoy the view over Breiðafjörður fjord. At the mountain top, there are ruins of a monastery from the Middle Ages, and at the root of the mountain, there is Helgafellskirkja church, built in 1903. The mountain attracts about 300 visitors a day in summer.
In 2014, landowners received a grant from the Project Fund of Tourist Destinations to repair damage done to the area. “The plan was to make the trail permanent, enlarge the parking lot and improve signs, to make it possible to receive the large number [of tourists] who arrive here,” Jóhanna explained. The decision to charge an entrance fee was made after a request for an additional grant from the same fund had been denied two years in a row.
“For a long time, we wondered whether to close access to Helgafell, but decided instead to take this course, so that people could enjoy coming here to this beautiful place. Funds are needed to operate a place like this one. It goes without saying,” Jóhanna concluded.