Monday, September 05, 2016

DESTINATION ICELAND - Tourism Booming, But...

"Tourism in Iceland is booming — but that may not be all good news" PBS NewsHour 8/30/2016


SUMMARY:  As war, terrorism and uncertainty pervade the globe, travelers are flocking to Iceland -- regarded as one of the safest nations on the planet.  Fishing used to be the country's most profitable industry, but in recent years, tourism has claimed the top spot.  Still, the buzz and the economic benefits it delivers are accompanied by challenges.  Malcolm Brabant reports Iceland's tourism 'growing pains.'

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The tourist season in Europe is winding down, and at least one nation hopes it will stay that way.

Iceland was one of this year's “It” destinations for vacationers, but people there are learning the downside of that boom.  More tourist money can also mean more problems.

Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has our story.

MALCOLM BRABANT (NewsHour):  With its volcanic underbelly and unspoiled prehistoric landscape, Iceland has suddenly become one of the hottest destinations.

OLOF YRR ATLADOTTIR, Director General, Icelandic Tourist Board:  My name is Olof Yrr Atladottir.  And I'm the director general of the Icelandic Tourist Board.

For me, Iceland is the possibility of enjoying solitude in spectacular wide-open spaces.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Iceland is certainly spectacular.  The Gullfoss Waterfall, part of the so-called Golden Circle of attractions not far from the capital, is said by some to rival Niagara Falls.

And it's not surrounded by high-rise hotels.  But can you get solitude?  That's debatable.  Iceland is a location for “Game of Thrones.”  And fans of the hit series are partly responsible for the island's new popularity, so much so, that it's difficult to grab a shot of pure nature without getting photo-bombed by people taking selfies.

MARK HEASMAN, CEO, Ormiston Families London:  My name is Mark Heasman.  I run a children's charity in London.  It's a delightful country.  So far, we have been in Reykjavik.  But we're now just about to go out on a three-week expedition around the interior, so we can't wait to get away from the people.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  We met Heasman in the Thingvellir National Park, another destination on the Golden Circle route.  It's a World Heritage Site and place of great national importance to Icelanders as a legendary meeting point throughout the centuries.

MARK HEASMAN:  This particular point seems really crowded, actually, for somewhere that's so special and so unique.  It's actually a bit disappointing to see it full of tourists.  But then people need to see it, I guess.

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