In a bid to tackle rising overtourism, the Faroe Islands is closing its doors to visitors next month, with a team of volunteers set to spend three days undertaking a number of tasks to prepare the country for its summer influx of visitors.
With a population of around 50,000 people but annual visitation double that, the Faroes – an island national governed by Denmark – is no stranger to a busy tourism season.
Fuelled by cheaper flights, greater affluence, the media and new accommodation platforms, tourism has skyrocketed in recent times. International arrivals globally have increased from 25m in 1950, to more than 1.3bn in 2017. The growth of this recession-proof industry is projected to continue year-on-year and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts it reaching 1.8bn in 2030.
For the Faroes, to accommodate the huge number of tourists during its summer months – more than two tourists for every one resident – the island will close to visitors between 26 and 28 April. During that time, a team of 100 ‘voluntourists’ will be provided with accommodation, food and lodging. In return, they will carry out manual labour to get the island prepared for the summer.
"We're keen to keep our green islands unspoiled," said a statement from Visit Faroe Islands – the country's tourism body.
"The fragile natural environment in a few popular tourist locations has felt the effects of an increase in visitors. These areas need a helping hand to ensure they remain pristine; sustainability is the goal."
The tourism campaign will see the team of volunteers work with local villagers and farmers to identify several areas where work is needed, hopefully paving the way for a sustainable future for the islands.
Projects will include the construction of walking paths and viewpoints to help preserve nature and birdlife sanctuaries, and the erection of signs to help with wayfinding.
"We hope that our new project may inspire other countries to follow suit, and to set up their own maintenance crews, thereby encouraging tourists to help in whatever way is needed to deal with the particular problem(s) affecting that destination," said the statement.
For more on overtourism, see the Q1 edition of Attractions Management
, available here