Have you heard of “The Icelandic Pledge”? If not, we’re here to introduce you to this new way of thinking about sustainable travel. The folks at “Inspired by Iceland” conceived of the pledge to raise awareness about tourists’ responsibility when visiting the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. It outlines ways to preserve the pristine beauty of this island while enjoying its many wild, remote locations.
It also represents a response to a number of incidents that have cast a poor light on tourism in recent years. While these incidents might appear harmless on the surface, the impact on Iceland has proven deeper than many of these hapless and careless guests cared to realize.
Here’s what you need to know about the Icelandic Pledge and how it’s rewriting the rules of tourism for the better.
Iceland at a Crossroads
Families travel to Iceland to sample its rugged beauty and incredible natural wonders. They come to soak up the island’s rich Scandinavian culture and spend time in its internationally renowned natural hot springs. But a recent spate of visitors has left more than footprints in their wake.
For example, some tourists have ripped moss from mountain slopes to write crude messages while others foraged the plant for tent insulation. What neither group likely realized is that this moss takes decades to grow. In other words, their handiwork resulted in significant, long-term consequences. In the case of the vandalism incident, it required ten people working for three full days to begin the process of healing the landscape.
In another recent incident, a group of tourists traveling in motorhomes decided to steal and poach a lamb from a local farm. Fortunately, they got caught and prosecuted. Nevertheless, these events demonstrate the damage that can be done when guests to Iceland decide to behave badly. Fortunately, these situations prove few and far between.
Sustainability Inspired by Iceland
This story is far from all doom and gloom, though. Instead, it illustrates how positive change can remake ecosystems, landscapes, and the way we sustainably see the world. You see, “The Icelandic Pledge” is designed to educate guests , encouraging them to travel more sustainably. It encourages them to respect nature and local cultures along the way. In this informal contract, tourists agree to the following terms:
I pledge to be a responsible tourist.
When I explore new places.
I will leave them as I found them.
I will take photos to die for,
without dying for them.
I will follow the road into the unknown,
But never venture off the road.
And I will only park where I am supposed to.
When I sleep out under the stars,
I’ll stay within a campsite.
And when nature calls,
I won’t answer the call on nature.
I will be prepared for all weathers,
All possibilities and all adventures.
“The Icelandic Pledge” operates from the premise that being a tourist in a foreign land is a privilege and luxury. But it’s also one that comes with great responsibility. After all, no tourist wants to visit a destination strewn in trash, marked by graffiti, and scarred by other forms of vandalism. The pledge gets visitors to focus on sustainable practices that will ensure Iceland remains pristine and welcoming to future generations. To date, more than 80,834 have taken the challenge, which you can go here to complete.
The Icelandic Pledge
When you head to the website to take the pledge for yourself, you’ll be delighted to find that it’s so much more than an oath. Each aspect of the pledge comes with lighthearted yet informative educational videos. They include brief lessons about topics like how to drive in Iceland. Motoring around isn’t as easy as you might think since tarmac to gravel road transitions can happen quickly. What’s more, single-lane bridges abound. Coupled with capricious weather, you need to be on top of your game.
Other essential courses offered on the site include responsible traveling tips, a guide to safe selfies, and how to pack warm when visiting this Nordic gem. But our personal favorite remains how to avoid hot-tub awkwardness. This course proves especially critical since every Icelandic town, no matter how little, boasts its own pool or sundlaug. Most are located outdoors and geothermally heated. They include hot tubs open year-round. What many visitors might not realize is that these bathhouses venerate tradition above all else. So, avoid off-putting practices like talking loudly on your cell phone or forgetting to properly bathe before heading into the pools.
After you watch each video, you’ll take a quick five-question test and then receive a diploma. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert of sustainable tourism and the ins and outs of traveling Iceland.
Get Ready for an Icelandic Velkominn
Ask anybody who’s traveled to the “Land of Fire and Ice,” and they’ll tell you the same thing. Few nations prove more hospitable than Iceland. Acts of random kindness are common, and locals don’t hesitate when it comes to doing nice things for others, even those just passing through.
But to enjoy the full Icelandic Velkommin (welcome), you’ll need to hold up your end of the bargain through responsible, enlightened tourism. That means leaving nothing but footprints behind. Are you ready to take “The Icelandic Pledge”? You’ll find its sustainable lessons well-suited to your family’s future travels in Iceland and beyond.
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