Over the past few years, many destinations have had to find solutions for dealing with a soaring number of tourists. Some have limited the daily number of visitors, others have introduced tourist taxes of some kind. Farmers on the Faroe Islands have even taken the matter into their own hands by introducing a fee for people who want to visit some of the islands’ most beautiful nature spots, many of which are located on private grounds.
The Faroe Islands have seen an explosion in tourist numbers over the last decade. Thanks to social media campaigns and nature snaps of some enthused adventurers, people are eager to visit the island group despite its annual 300 days of rain. Even though there are only 55,000 Faroese, over 110,000 visitors set foot on the islands every year, most of them over summer. Some stay for a couple or days or weeks, others just hop off their cruise for a couple of hours. And if 110,000 tourists a year might not seem like a lot for many tourist destinations, the Faroe Islands weren’t entirely prepared as they should have been, according to Guðrið Højgaard, the director of Visit Faroe Islands.
Because of the rising number of visitors – and therefore also accidents, as the islands are known for their tricky geography and weather – farmers have started asking visitors for a fee, often of the amount of 200 Danish króna or about 27 euros. They see this as fitting, since the tourists are walking on their private land and many farmers now also offer guiding services to prevent accidents from happening. Hotspots such as the floating lake at Trælanipa, the lagoon at Saksun and the sea stacks at Dunnesdrangar are some of the sights visitors now have to pay for.
“Farming was our life-blood for centuries and our oldest written document is the ‘Sheep Letter’ from 1298, which sets out the rules about compensation for trespass. But if tourists pay a fee, or environment tax, then we need to ensure the money is used to protect nature. And, I don’t think people should be charging without offering a service”, Høgni Hoydal, the minister for trade and industry, commented to the Guardian about farmers starting to ask visitor fees.
According to the tourism board, it’s up to politicians to decide whether or not asking such fees should be allowed and to discuss the issue of public access.