Travellers and Nature
Natural and cultural heritage sites are among the main tourist attractions in Iceland, and a main factor in the rapid increase in foreign travellers in Iceland in recent years. Travel services are a major industry utilising Icelandic nature resources and, as a result, place a large number of locations under pressure. Icelanders are also enjoying outdoor leisure in increasing measure.
In many areas Icelandic nature and cultural heritage sites are sensitive, especially in a number of the most popular sites for visitors. Many types of infrastructure need organised development to protect the qualities of the sites while at the same time increasing the security of the travellers visiting them. Examples of such development are hiking trails, security fences, service centres and signs, as well as organised supervision and land wardens.
To formulate public policy, co-ordinate and organise actions in this area the Icelandic parliament Althingi has adopted legislation providing for preparation of a national plan for the development of infrastructure to protect natural and cultural heritage sites. The objective of the Act is to provide an overall framework for all locations in need of protection due to increased traffic resulting from tourism and outdoor leisure. It is also intended to harmonise comprehensive efforts to develop, operate and maintain infrastructure aimed at natural protection and protection of cultural heritage sites.