Iceland has become so popular with international visitors that the government is considering raising the taxes tourists are required to pay.
The country has experienced a tourism boom in the last decade, with the number of visitors rising by 20 per cent every year between 2010 and 2014. Iceland’s population is around 335,000, a number greatly outstripped by the 1.7 million tourists who visited in 2016.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Iceland’s tourism minister Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir said the ministry is looking at several options for increasing tourism fees. This could include raising the current hotel levy or require tour companies to obtain special licenses.
“This sector and all of us have to be careful not to become victims of our own success,” Gylfadottir said in the interview.
2.3 million tourists are expected in 2017.
Another option would be to limit access to popular sights to avoid them being ruined by overcrowding, similar to measures recently taken at the Angkor temple complex in Cambodia.
“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,” Gylfadottir said.
The money raised from any increase in taxes would be used to improve infrastructure and facilities across Iceland, allowing it to better deal with tourist numbers.
Iceland is already an expensive destination to visit, and Gylfadottir claims these proposed measures aren’t intended make the experience any less pleasurable for visitors, but to protect what makes the country such a desirable destination in the first place.