Scroll through Instagram, and you’ll probably see enough geysers, waterfalls and northern lights to know that everyone’s going to Iceland. International visitors there have quadrupled since 2010, with nearly 2 million arriving in 2016, inundating the island nation’s 350,000 residents. So how can conscientious travelers enjoy this trending destination without overwhelming it?
Icelandic writer Alda Sigmundsdóttir, author of eight books about her home country, offers some ideas in her latest title, The Little Book of Tourists in Iceland. She’s quick to point out that the influx has been a boon to Iceland’s economy, which was devastated in the 2008 financial downturn, but accommodating so many visitors creates significant disruption to Iceland’s way of life and stretches the limits of its infrastructure. By taking some time to learn a bit about Iceland’s culture and environment, thoughtful visitors can ease the burden.
“Very often the things that locals find intolerable are things that visitors are simply not aware of, and would refrain from doing if they knew how upsetting they were to the local people,” Sigmundsdóttir says.
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