How to be a Responsible Tourist in Iceland

How to be a Responsible Tourist in Iceland

26.08.2019 | Kaelene Spence

Here at Hey Iceland, we are focused on working to make tourism in Iceland more sustainable and are actively searching for ways to help our travelers be responsible tourists. Whether this is by creating new tour and activity package options, such as our new electric car road trip, or by continuing our core focus of working with small businesses and farmers, we want to do our part in making the tourism industry in Iceland as sustainable as possible.

But in order to have a sustainable tourism industry in Iceland we need your help!

By doing your part to be a responsible tourist while visiting Iceland you can make a difference towards the larger tourism industry. It doesn’t take much to be a responsible tourist, just by following the rules and respecting nature you are well on your way to doing your part. For those of you who want to take it a step further and create a trip that is all about being a responsible tourist here are a few different actions you can take when you visit this nature-rich country.

How to be a responsible tourist in Iceland

Lead by Example

An act as simple as following the rules that are already in place can have an amazing impact, both for your safety, as well as how it will influence others. It is amazing how quickly people will break the rules and do something that could be putting themselves at risk just because they saw someone else doing it. All it takes is one person climbing over the rope for others to follow, resulting in both a dangerous situation for all as well as damage to nature.

When exploring around Iceland be the example of how others should act and don’t join the crowd breaking the rules. Stick to the designated pathways and viewing areas, you will be getting the same great experience but with the added bonus of knowing that others are following your lead and keeping to the right area as well. The trickle effect of this simple effort can have incredible power and the more people who strive to be travelers that lead by example, the more powerful this action will become.

Rainbows on the Gullfoss

Book a Farm Stay Accommodation

Who better to learn about respecting the Icelandic nature than those who spend their days working the land?! By choosing a farm stay for your accommodation in Iceland you will both be supporting local farmers, as well as getting hands-on experience working with the Icelandic nature. Nothing makes you appreciate something more than putting in the work with your own hands, you will walk away from one of these stays with an even greater appreciation for the nature and the pride of knowing you did something to help benefit the Icelandic nature and society.

Responsible travel and sustainability in Iceland
Farm stay accommodation Hagi I in Aðaldalur

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

As we mentioned in our recent don’ts of Iceland blog post, buying bottled water in Iceland is something to avoid. Purchasing bottled water is like throwing your money away for some extra plastic, and why would you want to do that when there is the freshest and best tasting water for free running in the taps all over the country!

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Do your part towards sustainability and don’t forget to pack your reusable water bottle for your trip. Once you taste the fresh cold water in Iceland you will be so happy you saved your money, and helped the environment in one tasty sip.

Rent an Electric Vehicle

Enjoying cruising around the gorgeous Icelandic countryside while helping the environment at the same time by renting an electric vehicle. It is a win-win for everyone.

How to be a responsible tourist in Iceland

The Icelandic government in recent years has been setting ambitious goals to combat climate change. One such goal is a complete ban of petroleum or diesel vehicles by 2030. Results are already being seen in the Icelandic market with sales of electric vehicles increasing almost 6% in 2018. At Hey Iceland, we are excited to announce the release of our new tour option, Electric South Iceland, which will have you exploring all over south Iceland in an electric car. What better way to help make tourism in Iceland sustainable than by doing good for the environment all while enjoying the beauty of nature!

Bring a Bag to Clean-up Litter

Getting out for some outdoor adventures is a must while in Iceland. Well, unless it is stormy weather, then it is better to skip the outdoor fun and keep safe and warm somewhere inside. When you do head out for some exploring we have one quick and easy way for you to practice responsible tourism and protect the environment all while enjoying the gorgeous nature.

Bring a bag to pick up any litter you find along the way.

It may be a bit of a shock to you, but it is one sad truth of the tourism boom Iceland has had that the amount of litter you will see in nature has greatly increased. Do your part to help out by picking up items you find along the way and properly disposing of the litter. Not only are you cleaning nature for others, but you are helping preserve the Icelandic nature for years to come.

Use Eco-friendly Tour Operators

Just because you are trying to be a responsible traveler doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any of the fun in Iceland! The number of eco-friendly tour operators has been increasing over the years making it possible to do that activity on your Iceland bucket list all while supporting a tour operator that strives to protect the environment.

Before you book your tour do some investigating to see if the tour operator has a statement on their stance on sustainable and responsible tourism. At Hey Iceland, we focus on supporting local businesses and making a positive contribution to the rural communities in Iceland. This means that many of the tour options you will find on our site are focused on being eco-friendly and promoting responsible tourism. You can also check for companies certified by Vakinn which is the official quality and environmental system for Icelandic tourism.

How to be a responsible tourist in Iceland
Snorkel at Silfra with our Vakinn certified partner DIVE.IS

Eat Local Food

Being how Iceland is an island, and a not very large one at that, a lot of the food items here need to be shipped over. As the number of visitors coming to Iceland increase this also greatly increases the food needed here to keep everyone fed and happy, thus resulting in an increased impact on the environment in the fossil fuels needed to get the food over to Iceland.

The simple step of choosing local food as often as possible while in Iceland will greatly lower this impact on the environment. Furthermore, not only will you enjoy more flavorful meals, but by eating local food you will be helping support the Icelandic farmers and small businesses, a delicious win for all!

Responsible travel and sustainability in Iceland

The use of local food is already an emphasis in the Icelandic restaurant scene so be on the lookout for this when choosing where to dine out at. Or, take it a step further and go straight to the farms for a meal! There are several locations around Iceland that bring the farm to table concept to life such as Friðheimar, Efstidalur and Vogafjós.

Food that tastes better and is better for the environment, who wouldn’t want that?!

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Leave Surroundings How You Found Them

If you travel to Iceland and want to take only one step towards being a more responsible tourist make this it! Just imagine how different things would be if everyone traveled with the goal of keeping everything exactly how they found it? No more would there be litter left on the ground or damage done to nature. And think of all the dangerous situations that would be avoided if people kept in mind leaving their surroundings how they found them by not climbing over the barriers or walking off the pathway!

When you arrive somewhere before you make a decision to do something, take a look around and ask yourself if this action will change your surroundings. You might think walking a few steps off the trail into the moss won’t have an impact, but when you look back to see your footprints still in the moss you will think again. Just by using this mindset to help make your decisions you will be well on your way to being a responsible traveler helping keep the tourism industry in Iceland sustainable.

How to be a responsible tourist in Iceland

Interested in learning more about being a responsible tourist in Iceland? Check out  our article about things to avoid being a bad tourist.

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