Faroe Islanders wary of over tourism as tourist numbers continue to grow spectacularly

Faroe Islanders are wary of over tourism as the number of foreign visitors continues to grow spectacularly. Some of them are in particular afraid of their country ending up like Iceland – or more specifically Reykjavík.

Guđriđ Højgaard, Visit Faroe Islands CEO, is clear that tourism in the Faroe Islands needs to expand sensitively.

She told British newspaper Daily Telegraph: “We see no comparison with what’s happened in Iceland. They have many different airlines servicing the island, and cater for more than 2.5 million visitors per annum. We don’t aim for that. We only want to develop in order to preserve what we have.” Højgaard points out that this summer season will see campaigns aimed at integrating local people’s needs and expectations with tourism.

Jóannes Jensen, Hotel Føroyar’s owner, agrees with Ms. Højgaard: “No-one in tourism wants to see development for its own sake. We want to preserve our distinctive culture and protect our natural environment – and we’ve seen how Reykjavik [Iceland’s capital] has somehow lost a bit of its soul due to overtourism.”

Meanwhile, Professor Pál Weihe, Chair of the Faroese Art Association, is concerned about the wider impact of development. “I’m fearful mass tourism could dilute our distinctive culture, which relies on a long history of shared language and customs,” he says, according to Daily Telegraph. “We mustn’t change to fit in with outsiders’ expectations.”

Last year, Vágar Airport handled a record 378.000 passengers, reports Faroese news website JN.fo.

Passenger numbers rose 10.7 percent on year in 2018.

The growth comes on the back of a number of new routes added throughout the last couple of years. Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands, has added new scheduled services to Barcelona, Mallorca, Lisboa, Malta and Gran Canaria.

It has also played a factor that SAS commenced a daily route between Denmark and the Faroe Islands in March 2017, while Atlantic Airways lowered fares to better compete with SAS.

This July, Atlantic Airways will open a new route from Vágar to Paris, and it is also expected, albeit not yet confirmed, that the Faroese national airline will make a couple of flights – 4-6 flights – from Vágar to New York City this fall.

Author: Jens Hákun Leo

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