The member of Alþingi Mr. Þór Saari has claimed there are too many tourists in Iceland. If he is correctly quoted, this is a most surprising statement from a person with both a broad international experience—including from the tourist industry—and by assumption a person understanding the modern international society. Among his most surprisingly statements are:
“Icelanders who go downtown to their cafés, which they have maybe been doing for years, cannot get in because they are full of tourists,”
“We can no longer go to Þingvellir and enjoy the view. We can no longer go to Gullfoss and Geysir and enjoy going there because there are thousands of foreign tourists, disturbing you in your own country”
His rumbling obviously comes from a Reykjavík citizen…
He might be right in claiming there are many tourists in the Reykjavík area during a period when many of the inhabitants of the city are on their vacation outside Reykjavík. I doubt Þór would refuse to on a holiday trip to New York because of the fact that he then would contribute to the “pollution” of New York—or make it unpleasant for the New Yorker to go out dining and drinking...
One must however give honour to Þór for focusing on the fact that the majority of the foreign tourists remain within the Reykjavík area and the Golden Circle.
The main goal when continuing to invite more tourists to come to Iceland should be to better spread the tourism to the rest of the country—where there is certainly both “space” enough and a positive attitude to an increase in tourism.
When it comes to services in Reykjavík, the travel business can assure Þór that without tourism, there would be a significantly lower number of both restaurants and hotels in Reykjavík… Further, it is most disappointing that a man of Þór’s character feels himself “disturbed” by tourists—for instance at Þingvellir...
Next time you go to Þingvellir, Þór, take the pleasure in telling the tourists around about this magnificent place. Both parties will for sure enjoy this.
At last, he is presenting the “mistake of putting all their eggs in one basket,” referring to four (!) “baskets,” the herring industry, power plants, fish stocks and now the tourism industry. “It’s all about making the most [money] in the shortest time possible,” he said.
First of all, Þór is then in brief mentioning the industries in Iceland that have created the main contribution to the growth of the Icelandic economy. It would have been interesting to see Iceland today without the herring industry, power plants, fish stocks and now the tourist industry; four of the major industries that have and will contribute to prosperities in Iceland.
A splendid idea from Þór—with his background and knowledge—would have been to contribute constructively to see to tourism growing all over Iceland—and not only around Austuvöllur. And if he wishes to learn how international tourist marketing is resulting in tourism all over Iceland; just see Íshestar (www.ishestar.is)
Gert Heiberg, Tönsberg, Norway