Tens of Thousands Have Visited Eruption Site

From the eruption site in Geldingadalur valley, Fagradalsfjall mountain.

From the eruption site in Geldingadalur valley, Fagradalsfjall mountain. Photo/Ólafur Stephensen

Vala Hafstað

Tens of thousands of people have visited the eruption site in Fagradalsfjall mountain, the Reykjanes peninsula, Southwest Iceland, since the eruption began on March 19. The surrounding area was in no way prepared for such heavy traffic of cars and hikers, Morgunblaðið reports.

Little by little, access to the area has been improved, but much remains to be done. The minister of tourism recently announced that ISK 10 million (USD 78,000; EUR 66,000) will be allocated to the town of Grindavík for making improvements to the area. Grindavík Mayor Fannar Jónasson welcomes the announcement, but adds that the cost of building up infrastructure there has likely already reached that amount.

A long line of cars driving toward the eruption site …

A long line of cars driving toward the eruption site last week. Photo/Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson

“This area is sensitive enough that it won’t be able to tolerate prolonged traffic,” he states. “This land has limited vegetation, and it helps that a trail has been marked with stakes. But if thousands and tens of thousands continue coming, we may have to look at this in a larger context, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Easter weekend, a major travel weekend, is coming up. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, has urged people to exercise caution when they visit the eruption site to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Tourists who have recently arrived in the country and are in quarantine are prohibited from visiting the area.

All sorts of projects are underway, meant to help make traffic to the site more efficient. Rescue workers, who have been in charge of directing the traffic, have been allocated an area south of the mountain, on Suðurstrandarvegur road, where they can be based.

Fannar believes that if infrastructure can be successfully built up near the eruption site, an opportunity will be created for the town of Grindavík. “We want to receive our guests well,” he states, “and we want companies in the travel industry to benefit from this. It is ideal to stop by in Grindavík to enjoy services offered.”

Björn Teitsson, PR person, was at the site yesterday and reported a line of cars, 5 km long, and no available parking spots. He suggests the town of Grindavík start charging ISK 1,000 (USD 8; EUR 7) for parking to finance the cost of services provided by rescue teams.

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