Fatal accidents among tourists in Iceland appear to be on the rise this year, worrying officials, RÚV reports.
Last year, three foreign tourists died here and two Icelandic ones. So far this year, there have been nine fatal accidents in tourism, seven of those in traffic. Seven of the deceased were foreign tourists, five of whom died in traffic accidents. That increase worries Jónas Guðmundsson, project director for ICE-SAR.
Fatal accidents among tourists have been about 0.5 per 100,000, but that rate was 3 per 100,000 before the turn of the century. About 50 percent of the foreign tourists who lose their lives here die in traffic accidents, while most of the others die during outdoor activities.
Since the year 2000, several factors have helped reduce the rate of fatalities: Roads have improved, so have cars, and since 2006, preventive efforts, such as the Highland Watch, have been added. A so-called Safetravel project was launched in 2010 in an effort to educate tourists about dangers to avoid.
Jónas reports accidents, such as broken bones, are common by Dettifoss and Seljalandsfoss. Last winter, there were accidents every week on icy trails by Gullfoss where an ambulance was needed. Conditions by Dettifoss are difficult for rescue, and rescue teams need to be called out in case of an accident.