Iceland is considering introducing a new tax on tourists or limiting access to the most popular attractions for sightseers.
The country has seen tourism boom over the last decade, with tourist numbers rapidly growing from 490,000 in 2010 to an estimated 2.3 million in 2017.
This is a mind-blowing number of visitors considering that Iceland’s population totals less than 340,000.
The country was used as a backdrop for various scenes in the popular television series Game of Thrones.
All of us have to be careful not to become victims of our own success
This, coupled with a drop in Icelandic currency, has led to Iceland’s recent tourism boom.
However, while in some ways this is undoubtedly positive – tourism brings in over £4 billion annually and is Iceland’s biggest export – the country is starting to struggle with the ever-increasing demand.
“The sector and all of us have to be careful not to become victims of our own success,” said Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Iceland’s tourism minister.
“Some areas are simply unable to facilitate one million visitors every year.
“If we allow more people into areas like that, we’re losing what makes them special — unique pearls of nature that are a part of our image and of what we’re selling.”
In response to the rise in tourist numbers, Iceland’s coalition government is considering various options to reduce the impact.
One possibility is making bus companies and tour operators buy a special licence.
Another is charging a higher tax on hotel rooms to bring in more money for infrastructure and facilities.
This would serve to make Iceland, already an expensive destination, even pricier.
“When we talk about charging for access, to me that relates more to controlling the number of people entering particular areas – which we need to do,” said Gylfadottir.
“We also need to ensure that tourists that come here get a positive experience during their stay.”
If you do fancy going, tourist tax be damned, here are the 10 best things to do in Iceland.