Seven hundred and eight-one thousand is the number of foreign tourists who left Iceland through Keflavík International Airport last year.
Then you have more than 100,000 visitors by cruise ship, and thousands arriving by the Norræna ferry from the continent to Seyðisfjörður in the East Fjords. Or from Greenland to Reykjavík Domestic Airport.
So last year, more than 900,000, or three times the population of Iceland, visited the Republic.
There was a 40 percent increase in tourists to Iceland in January.
How many tourists can Iceland welcome?
Daily Morgunblaðið recently had a front-page interview with Clive Stacey, the director of British travel agency Discovery. “Some of our customers have been disappointed. They thought Iceland was not so overcrowded. In some places, you can hardly move. We even recommend our customers to visit popular nature destinations like the waterfall Gullfoss and Geysir, either early in the morning or late in the evening,” he said. “It can be unpopular to set rules, but if it will not be done, beautiful nature areas people are coming to Iceland to see, will be destroyed and will disappear,” he added.
Hiking Laugavegur. Photo: Ragnar Axelsson (RAX).
Personally, I was shocked hiking the Laugavegur trail last summer.
For 30 years I have enjoyed the spectacle of colors and forms in the south-central highlands.
Last summer, for the first time I noticed a lot of used toilet paper and empty plastic water bottles along the trail.
The trail is as popular with Icelanders as with foreign tourists.
So the paperwork is a joint effort by all of us.
Welcome to Iceland.
Páll Stefánsson - [email protected]