The director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF), Jón Karl Ólafsson, said at SAF’s general meeting in Akureyri on March 29 that tourism and energy companies should cooperate more on environmental issues.
“Tourists who visit us keep increasing and profits from tourism are also rapidly increasing. In 2006, 422,000 tourists came to Iceland and increased by 13 percent [year-on-year],” Ólafsson said in his speech, which was published on SAF’s website.
“In 2001 our government decided in consultation with companies in the industry to increase marketing and advertising of our country and nation on foreign markets. That decision is a good example of the foresight of our authorities,” Ólafsson said.
“It is clear that environmental issues are of great importance to tourism. […] Our policy has first and foremost been working with all parties involved in these issues […] to secure good cooperation,” Ólafsson said.
Ólafsson said an environmental committee established by the government had come a long way in coordinating tourism and energy harnessing on Hellisheidi heath near Reykjavík, where cords and pipes are to be underground so the area can be used for outdoor recreation.
“Of course we want continue to secure access to untouched nature, as some of the tourists who come here are looking for that. The environment is our natural resource and we have to guarantee that it will continue to be so,” Ólafsson concluded.
Photo by Skapti Hallgrímsson at Morgunbladid.