According to a recent poll by market research company Prósent for Fréttablaðið, some 72% of Icelanders agree that foreign tourists should pay for access to natural sites and parks, while 54% of Icelanders believe that Icelanders should not have to pay for access to these sites.
Only 12% of Icelanders disagreed with charging tourists for access, while some 30% of respondents did agree that Icelanders should pay a fee as well.
In a statement concerning the recent poll, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, minister of tourism, stated that fees in the industry are being examined. The fees are planned to go into effect starting in 2024. The goal of such fees will be to ensure that municipalities also benefit equally from tourist traffic.
Many natural sites and parks in Iceland already charge for parking, including many attractions along the Golden Circle and South Coast. These parking fees were initially controversial but came in response to the need to develop facilities in light of the growing volume of tourism Iceland saw in the 2010s. Two of Iceland’s most popular tourism sites, Skógafoss and Geysir, were even placed on at-risk status by Iceland’s Environmental Agency.
Complicating the question of parking- and tourism fees is the fact that many of Iceland’s most iconic tourism destinations are actually located on privately owned land, meaning that it is in large part up to the landowner to regulate the fees and land use. The lack of cooperation between bureaucracy and landowners has been identified as a serious roadblock to safety improvements at Reynisfjara, where a foreign tourist recently died. There have also been related questions in recent years about foreign land ownership in Iceland and whether there should be more restrictions.
The online survey was conducted from June 22 to July 4, sampling some 2,000 individuals aged 18 and over.