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Sustainable Travelling

Tourism in Northern Iceland has been working towards becoming more sustainable for years now, although up until recently without a clear and concise plan or labelling it sustainable tourism, as such. To begin with, North Iceland has an advantage on many destinations as we have access to plenty of renewable energy and many companies have utilised this to run more sustainable operations, with electric cars becoming a popular way to get around and electric boats replacing fossil powered ones for ocean based activities, such as whale watching.

Sustainable Travel Tips

  • Buy Icelandic products when shopping, both for food and handcrafts
  • Do not buy bottled water - our tap water is fresh, clean, and drinkable
  • Recycle your trash. There are public recycling points in villages and towns. Just ask the locals
  • Stay on hiking trails and respect trail limits to protect vegetation, soil, and wildlife sites
  • Respect restricted natural areas during bird breeding and for eider duck nesting
  • Do not damage sensitive moss and lichen
  • Respect national laws and rules for camping
  • Choose accommodation with a quality license

We have also developed projects that specifically contribute to more sustainable tourism, like the Arctic Coast Way and the Birding Trail, both of which promote a more balanced distribution of visitors, relieving pressure on individual places of interest. These also encourage visitors to stay longer, travel more slowly and visit more remote areas. Coupled with the development of sights and attractions in these more remote areas, this development benefits economically weaker communities, as it provides a new, or further, source of local income.

This encourages local people to find livelihood in their home regions and helps to reduce rural migration. With increased all-year-round services and offers, the number of visitors is spread throughout the season, which reduces the summer peak and delivers a regular income for the local population. These services include, among other things, food offerings in local restaurants and cafés, with which we have been working on a project called Taste North Iceland. The project highlights the food culture of North Iceland and emphasizes local food made with local ingredients.

Recently, we started a sustainable tourism development project. The project, Engage North Iceland, was initiated in cooperation with the Swiss travel and consultancy agency Kontiki Reisen, which has extensive experience within this field and helped organise workshops and a forum to develop a common vision as well as concrete steps for action. This work has resulted in the highlighting of four key areas to focus on in the near future:

  1. Benefitting local communities
  2. Increasing local value creation (all year-round)
  3. Protecting nature and wildlife
  4. Promoting renewable energies and climate-friendly alternatives

At Visit North Iceland, we have decided to focus on the first two areas in the immediate future, as they are the most within our realm of direct influence, although we will of course continue to lend a hand in working towards the other two, as well as promoting the efforts made towards them.