Small Icelandic Port Launches Community Guidelines For Cruise Visitors
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
Welcome to Seyðisfjörður! The iconic Rainbow Street is just one of the sights that draws visitors to this Icelandic coastal town.
Photo: Ómar Bogason
Inhabited by about 700 people, the Icelandic coastal town of Seyðisfjörður receives around 30,000 cruise passengers per year. Those visitors are important to the local economy, but so is preserving the things that make it worth visiting.
The town’s message to visitors is clear: “Everybody is welcome to our little paradise and we want to share the goodness with you.” Starting this year, the warm welcome also comes with a set of helpful instructions for visitors.
The guidelines were created by Seyðisfjördur Port and Seyðisfjördur municipality with assistance from and based on a template by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). The project has received funding from NORA (North Atlantic Cooperation).
Seyðisfjörður’s Community Specific Guidelines offer tips and tricks to get around but also advice on how to be a considerate guest. Among other things, the guidelines encourage visitors to enjoy the town and landscape, but to leave native flora, animals and heritage untouched. Tourists are given useful pointers on when to put the camera away to avoid disturbing people’s privacy. The guidelines also describe sites worth visiting and areas suited for hiking.
Mayor of Seyðisfjörður Aðalheiður Borgþórsdóttir, is happy with the collaboration with AECO and welcomes guests to Seyðisfjörður:
“What a pleasure it is to learn how many people are interested in visiting our tiny town; Seyðisfjörður. To them I want to say; I welcome you, and please enjoy and respect our nature, our heritage and habits. It has been particularly gratifying to collaborate with AECO on the local guidelines as well as with my local people. We are extremely proud to be the first municipality in Iceland to adopt such community guidelines for guests. With mutual respect and consideration, life becomes so much more enjoyable and, in many ways, simpler.”
Frigg Jørgensen, executive director of AECO, says that the expedition cruise industry is working to foster good relations with local communities.
“We are very happy for the good dialogue and collaboration between Seyðisfjördur and the expedition cruise industry. Iceland was included in AECO’s geographical range last year and AECO is working to implement a number of tools to ensure environmentally friendly, safe and considerate expedition cruise tourism in Iceland. This also includes vessel tracking, field staff assessments, observer schemes, in addition to developing community specific guidelines. It is great to see that the first Icelandic community has embraced this tool and made it their own.”
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.