The idea may be relatively new, but it is now more critical than ever that tourists adopt this new maxim surrounding travel. As the planet faces new environmental challenges, so too must we rise to the occasion and overcome them. Iceland is especially unique given its proximity to the Arctic Circle. The drastic rise of seawater can be seen no more apparent than throughout Iceland’s famous glacial fjords. They have seen a steady decline in their frozen structures, while simultaneously the oceans have risen.
The Future and Sustainable Tourism in Iceland
The warming of the planet is playing a massive role in changing Iceland’s culture and economy. Much of the country's economic strength is driven by both tourism and the fishing industry. It has a cyclical effect when tourism moves from the tourism mentioned above to mass tourism. Mass tourism is when people come to a new destination with no background on the culture, history, or environment, and only come to sightsee. While other cities and countries can get away with this, it is in Iceland’s best interest to promote sustainable tourism as much as possible. The effects caused by mass tourism are felt in real time here.
The future isn’t as dull and grim as I am making it out to be. Here, in Iceland, we are adopting the sustainable tourism method to ensure that the future generation of travelers and tourists can experience the wonder and majesty that is Iceland’s untouched landscapes. You don’t need to have a degree in environmental studies or sociology to practice sustainable tourism. Here are some quick tips to help you keep Iceland beautiful for both residents and visitors alike.
Do Research About Iceland Before Your Trip
Sustainable tourism is not only about keeping the environment intact, but also respecting the culture which you are visiting. The responsibility doesn’t fall solely on the traveler, and the host community must also be accepting and welcoming. This tacit agreement is unspoken and generally regarded as standard practice no matter where you travel. But, to get a sense of the culture, you are going to have to do a little research. Learning about a place before your visit shouldn’t feel like homework. Instead, it should get you excited for your trip!
Respect the Rules of the Country's Parks
I am a firm believer that rules are meant to be broken, except when it comes to the environment. The environment is too precious and fragile to break any rules with. It seems that we, as humans, have been breaking the rules for a while with regards to the environment. It is proving to have catastrophic ramifications. If the park signs say, “Don’t feed the animals,” please don’t feed the animals. Whatever the rule is, make sure to follow it. They are there for a reason. So try to be respectful and be a considerate, conscientious traveler.
My father used to say during a hiking or camping trip, “leave it better than you found it.” I never knew it until recently, but he was teaching me about sustainable tourism. This should be a no-brainer, yet some people completely disregard the environment and leave a mess after they are done enjoying it. Be aware of the things you bring in with you, and what you are leaving behind. Unless it is in your stomach or on your person, you should aim to take everything that you brought into an environmental area out with you. It is common sense, but you would be surprised how many people cannot follow this simple rule.
Final Thoughts on Sustainable Tourism in Iceland
Listed above are some easy and simple ways to make sure that you are the best tourist you can be during your trip to Iceland. These guidelines shouldn’t be exclusively practiced in Iceland. No matter where you go, whether it be travel or the daily commute, you should try to be respectful and aware of the effect you may have on your surroundings. Iceland is a prime example of a country whose future and livelihood depend on the willingness of its visitors to adopt sustainable tourism. This type of tourism is integral to ensuring the survival of our very fragile, magnificent planet. Remember: be aware of your actions, be mindful of the culture that you are visiting, and follow the rules. If you complete these three simple steps, you are on your way to becoming a model tourist!
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