Dangerous route and needs more oversight

The Rescue team at Glymur last Wednesday.

The Rescue team at Glymur last Wednesday. Photo/ICE-SAR Landsbjörg Rescue team.

The West Iceland Marketing Office has been working in cooperation with Hvalfjörður Municipality  to boost infrastructure at the waterfall Glymur where a fatal accident occurred last Wednesday.

Signs and guides for hiking to the waterfall are already in the area, according to Margrét Bjarkar Björnsdóttir, the director of destinations and marketing for SSV, the Association of Local Authorities in West Iceland.

“The municipality has been trying to fix and make improvements, but this is a popular hike route that would have to be better managed,” says Björnsdóttir.

“No man’s land”

She says that the area is a private property, and the owner has not tried to profit from the tourists’ arrival. The tourist destination is therefore somewhat organic and access to the waterfall cannot be closed due to public law. This creates a kind of no man’s land, since it is unclear who should handle what. This is the big problem in tourism, she says.

Photo/ICE-SAR Landsbjörg

“There has been an application for a grant from the municipality’s tourist development fund, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what you’d have to do, because the route is dangerous. It’s not always the same, and it’s also a question of time of year,” reports Björnsdóttir.

Asked about the number of people injured along this route, she answers that people have been injured on the route, and instances of a broken leg, but she does not know of any fatalities until last Wednesday. She also has no information on how many tourists visit Glymur each year because no official counting is being done.

Among the projects to promote local infrastructure are security analysis of walking routes, i.e. mapping out the routes to where rescue teams have had to pick up injured people.

Björnsdóttir says that the West Iceland Marketing Office has not encouraged tourists to travel to Glymur, as the emphasis there is on engaging in responsible publicity. “We don’t want to market and promote places that are dangerous.”

It is difficult to control when promoting places such as Glymur on social media or by tourism companies.

Have tried to close access to Kirkjufell

She mentions that law regarding public access is strong in Iceland. For example, efforts have been made to address and close access to Kirkjufell in Grundarfjörður due to fatal accidents that have occurred there. It has been recommended that people not walk up there at all times of the year, but there has been different reaction from tourism operators.


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