Iceland doesn’t mess around when it comes to sustainability. With tourists outnumbering residents, the country has found ways to ensure the constant flow of footprints cause minimal damage to the environment. But responsibility doesn’t just lie with the country – visitors also have a duty to protect the world-class hot springs and national parks. Luckily, we’ve got a rundown of top tips to encourage sustainable tourism in Iceland. Whether you travel to underdog destinations, go flight-free or choose to dine at local restaurants, read on to discover how we’re championing sustainable travel.
- Undertourism in Iceland
- Philantourism in Iceland
- Community-based tourism in Iceland
- Flight-free travel in Iceland
Overtourism simply means too many people in one place. Iceland has dealt with its fair share of this – in 2012, it was dubbed the fastest-growing destination in Europe. The effects of overtourism have been far reaching, with Iceland’s roads crumbling under the weight of too many tour buses. The solution? To visit overlooked corners of the country, a style of travelling that we’ve dubbed undertourism. Additionally, Iceland boosted its budget for tourism in 2020 and has improved the infrastructure at social-media-swarmed tourist sites like Stuolagil’s Canyon. More designated trails, car parks and toilets have lessened the impacts of overtourism, so you can enjoy these hotspots without leaving a trace.
We wholeheartedly believe that travel should be a force for good, and our concept of Philantourism embodies just that. This mash-up of philanthropy and tourism is about considering which holiday destination would benefit the most from your spending money, and Iceland is no exception. Tourism is one of its economic pillars, contributing over 3.5 billion US dollars and 34 thousand jobs in 2021. Treating yourself to locally-made omnom chocolate, a traditional wooly jumper or handcrafted lava jewellery is an easy way to contribute to the local economy and support sustainable tourism in Iceland.
Community-based tourism is a key part of responsible travel. It’s all about immersing yourself in experiences and accommodation owned by local communities, meaning the money you spend remains with them (rather than ending up offshore). How about learning to knit with Icelandic wool in one of the handicraft workshops in the little village of Hvammstangi? Or you could stay in a homestay, where you can expect friendly hospitality and an authentic insight into Icelandic culture. However you wish to spend your time, we’re here to fill you in on the best community-based experiences in Iceland, so you can make informed decisions on where your money best helps sustainable tourism in Iceland.
More and more travellers are trying to travel flight-free where possible, a trend we’re certainly on board with. And although Iceland is remote, flying isn’t the only option for reaching it. Those eager to reduce their carbon footprint can sail on a ferry from Denmark (accessible by car from the UK) and soak in the scenic sea views along the way. Once you arrive in the ‘Land of Ice and Fire’, travel by boat around the fjords and see waterfalls and glaciers from your car window on an epic road trip adventure. You can wave goodbye to planes in this flight-free feast for the eyes and be safe in the knowledge you’re practicing responsible tourism
Header Image by Anastasiya Zolotnitskaya | Written by Evie Buller