Over the 20 or so years that I’ve been travelling in Iceland, there’s no doubt that some considerable changes have taken place. With an almost unbeatable list of ‘wow’ natural features on offer, this easy to reach and culturally quirky island on the edge of the Arctic circle has been the recipient of incredible tourist growth. However not all of the changes are as a result of increased visitor numbers.
Of course, there are more hotels, a bigger airport and more cars on the road, but many of the very significant changes in Iceland are due to our warming climate. My own observations and photographs at the Sólheimajökull glacier, for example, clearly show retreat of the glacier snout and associated changes to the lagoon that lies in front of it. Talking to Icelanders as I often do, the ever-changing daily weather, together with more seasonal variations are even more of a topic of conversation than in the UK. Hotter drier summers (2019), very wet summers (2018), early heavy snow falls and winter storms all appear to be more extreme.
So, what can we do? At Iceland Traveller, our interest in the long term of health and well-being of Iceland extends way beyond our desire to ensure that it remains a fabulous destination from a business point of view. As a graduate of Environmental Studies, a former teacher of Geography, and the daughter of a farmer, my personal concern for the planet and Iceland’s very special fauna and flora is of enormous importance. I’ve always sought to introduce our travel customers to the authentic and real Iceland that I have grown to know so well. I know that it’s now time to also focus on the importance and benefits of travelling with a greater emphasis on sustainability.
Although change on a global level is a must, I firmly believe that making our own individual adjustments in all that we do also adds up to making a significant collective impact. A recent tourism survey indicates that in 2018, 92.4% of visitors to Iceland chose this destination because of their appreciation for landscapes and nature, suggesting to me that there’s a good chance that deciding to travel more sustainably will be readily accepted and understood by Iceland Traveller customers. I certainly hope so.
SLOWER MORE SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL
Our ethos for greater sustainability is based upon visiting Iceland and
- travelling more slowly
- seeing a smaller geographical area in more detail
- making use of all opportunities to reduce environmental impact
- contributing to the economy of rural and remote areas
- staying 2 or more nights at one location
- supporting businesses with recognised sustainability policies in place
- joining in small group travel to reduce fuel consumption
- using hybrid self-drive cars
PURE GLACIAL WATER
When I first travelled to Iceland, water in plastic bottles was almost unheard of and Icelanders found it hard to understand what was wrong with drinking some of the purest water in the world straight from the tap. Tourist demand has changed this, but now there’s a real drive to promote the idea that visitors travel with and use their own refillable bottle. Simple, sensible and sustainable. We are also adding some other suggestions to the packing list that we provide for our customers to help reduce plastic use in Iceland.
NO FLY? FLY LESS?
Travelling to an island in the mid-Atlantic is always a challenge for anyone trying not to fly, but there are options to reduce this. Alternatives involve embarking on a route that involves land, sea and less air travel and for those for whom the journey is the holiday, we have some great suggestions to make. Ask us more about our Journeys to Iceland.
OUR TREE PLANTING SCHEME
Since making the journey to Iceland by air is likely to remain the most suitable method for many, our travel plans now all include the opportunity to contribute to carbon off-setting through our own tree planting initiative in Iceland. ‘Trees for Iceland’ is a small partnership that we have established with a sustainable farming family in Iceland where there is already tree planting in action. Saplings are purchased in Iceland planted by us during summer trips using the contributions that have been made. Read more here about Trees in Iceland
LESS IS MORE
If I’ve learnt anything about Iceland over the years, it’s that there’s something of interest around every corner and that to get the best out of it you need to adopt the idea of being on ‘Iceland Time’. Travelling slowly and sustainably is a perfect opportunity to enhance your experience of Iceland and to get ‘under the skin’ of this alluring and amazing country. Let us tell you how!