The combination of vastly increased living standards for many people around the globe, individualism and social media has created a boom in tourism never seen in the history of humanity. Towns, areas and countries such as Venice, Dubrovnik, The Isle of Skye, US national parks, Iceland, The Netherlands and The Faroe Islands are feeling it (and that is just to name a few). The Faroe Islands seem to do something different.
The Faroe Islands has within the past two to three years come on many photographers radar. Rightly so, this small country has some of the most dramatic and spectacular landscape in the world.
In my latest video, I visit the cliffs “Trælanipa”. Trælanipa is one of the most famous locations in the Faroe Islands because of the dramatic perspective and optical illusion of a flying lake. One of the reasons for fame is definitely down to its popularity on Instagram. I explain in the video, that until recently it was free to visit this location.
However, from summer 2019 the owners of this land has started to charge a fee of 200DKK (around $30) to visit this location. As the Faroe Islands is a very small society, (around 50000 people) you can imagine this has sparked a debate and there are arguments for and against. With visitor numbers up to 200 people a day in high season in 2018 there is a fair share of pressure on the environment. Numbers are numbers and the farmer saw an opportunity to create an enterprise. New parking lot, free coffee, a chat with the locals and toilets are all part of the experience.
In the spring of 2019, the Faroese government took the initiative to invite people from around the world to do voluntarism. Free accommodation and food in exchange for work. Work focused on repairing and creating new trails in the most touristy areas. Trælanipa being one of such locations. The work is far from done, but from my knowledge, they will repeat the event again in 2020.
Another location that charge for visiting is the hike that leads to Drangarnir. The now iconic sea stack arch. Officially, a guide is mandatory and you will have to pay a fee of about $70. I have experienced exceptions to this, which bear witness to the fact that the Faroes is a young country when it comes to tourism. There are no common or best practice on how the locals ought to deal with the increased demand.
On the northern-most island Viðoy, you can hike the mountain Villingadalsfjall and get a spectacular view above the town and have the mountain Malinsfjall in the background. Here the fee is also 200DKK ($30). This is a response from the owners, as they sometimes have to climb up Villingadalsfjall and help tourists down who are suddenly caught in the fog. The Faroe Islands has been a famous hiking destination for a great many years before the regular tourism and photography tourism increased. The vast majority of “outdoor” visitors are still hikers.
In the small (and now infamous) town Saksun you will have to pay a fee of 70DKK ($11) to enter the beach. You are still allowed to photograph the old turf huts but do not touch the grass. According to the farmer, this was his response to VisitFaroeIslands using his property to increase tourism in the Faroes without compensating him.
Another location charging a small fee (50dkk, $8), is the hike up the mountain in the small town of Gjógv. The reason for this fee I know not, but Gjógv is a well-visited town by all sorts of tourists. Likewise, to visit the “puffin island”, Mykines, you will have to pay for a boat ride (round trip) and entrance to the Island. That is around $25 all in all. This money goes to the maintenance of the nature, protecting the bird life, creating and maintaining walking paths, etc.
This is what you will have to pay for (so far) if you want to photograph in the Faroe Islands. No, you do not have to pay to photograph but some locations charge a fee. There are different reasons to this fee. Some locals see a business opportunity while others implement it as compensation and others again use it for maintenance. It is of course all some sort of response to increased tourism. Is it good, bad, whatever or what do you think, let me hear down below? If you want to see even more photos from the Faroe Islands, you can check out my gallery.
The response of paying a fee to hike to certain locations in the Faroe Islands is just a small part of a bigger debate on what to do about increased tourism. What solutions do you know off to find the balance between visitors and a sustainable eco-system (here I mean eco-system in the broad sense, cities included). Let me hear down below.