Tourism-Obsessed Country Wants Out of Its Too-Many-Tourists Conundrum

You get what you pay for, Iceland

June 3, 2016 9:00 am

It takes about 20 hours to drive the Ring Road, a 1,500 km highway that circumscribes Iceland’s entire coastline.

Now, most people choose to drag that trip out over the course of a week or so, mostly because Iceland is an achingly beautiful primordial island that spews out lava all over the place and is literally Westeros.

Another reason so many people make the trip? A pair of industry-upheaving travel initiatives aimed at the budget-conscious jetsetter: Icelandair’s free seven-day stopovers and WOW’s as-low-as $99 transcontinental flights.

But now Iceland is running into a problem of scale: the 330,000-inhabitant, about-the-size-of-Kentucky nation’s infrastructure can’t accommodate the nearly 1.3 million tourists that pass through each year.

As reported by Travel + Leisure, the country is proposing legislation to limit the growth of home-sharing network Airbnb, which saw a 12.4% bump in popularity last year. Will similar measures be taken against the resident airlines? Probably not, since they’re providing jobs and injecting capital into the economy and whatnot.

But it should serve as a warning to other upstart tourist-embracing island nations who aren’t ready for a massive influx of peoples (cough Cuba cough) that sometimes in life, you get what people pay for.


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