Hey! Watch where you step: The Effects of Ecotourism on the Icelandic Natural Landscape

Authors: Madeleine Coalmer*,
Topics: Landscape, Cultural Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: ecotourism, tourism, Iceland, landscape geography, land degradation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Tourism within Iceland has skyrocketed since 2008, when the financial crisis of the small island country decreased the currency exchange rates. In order to restore the Icelandic economy, nature has been advertised and commodified as a unique “natural” experience with fantastical waterfalls, glaciers, and volcanoes. This commodification has attracted millions of tourists each year, promoting economic development and stabilization. However, high foot and automobile traffic have detrimental effects on both the physical and cultural landscape. A lack of pre-existing on the ground research presented an opportunity to analyze the effects of tourism on the environment firsthand. In this paper, I explore the effects of high rates of tourism on the physical and cultural landscapes through face-to-face interactions with international tourists and native Icelandic people, as well as ethnographic observations at geoparks and national parks.

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