Will Curious Tourists Get the Picture?

Vala Hafstað

What can a small town do when tourists start taking pictures through the windows of people’s homes? The town of Seyðisfjörður reacted by becoming the first municipality in Iceland to pass guidelines for foreign tourists arriving by cruise ships. Residents are asking tourist to show consideration when taking photos. They’re hoping tourist will get the picture.

“It all began two years ago, when a group of people began discussing these issues,” Seyðisfjörður Mayor Aðalheiður Borgþórsdóttir tells Morgunblaðið. “There was irritation among us, because people were taking pictures through the windows of homes, and even walking into private yards. This is a small town with a lot of tourist traffic. That’s when this idea came up,” she explains.

The town’s guidelines state that Icelandic children play on playgrounds near their schools, and they kindly ask tourists not to take pictures of them without parental approval. Tourists are furthermore asked to treat the country’s nature well and to leave no trash behind.

“We were able to contact AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. It’s an association which has worked at Svalbard and elsewhere, assisting people in writing guidelines for tourists,” Aðalheiður adds.

The town expects 70 cruise ships to arrive in Seyðisfjörður this summer. The first one arrived May 8. In addition to those, the ferry Norræna, which sails between Denmark and Iceland, arrives twice a week, bringing a total of 1,200 passengers a week.

Aðalheiður admits that the guidelines have yet to be adequately distributed. “They were just published, and they will take a long time to be distributed, but through AECO, they will be sent to the cruise lines belonging to their association.” The guidelines will also be distributed to Norræna.

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