What “Inspired Iceland” is trying to Achieve
Article by David Brooks
Iceland is a country that relies on tourism and ever since the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, travel to Iceland has dropped precipitously. Enter Inspired by Iceland.
Eyjafjallajokull (translated means: island mountain glacier) started erupting in April 2010 and, as we all know, disrupted air travel for weeks, stranding tens of thousands of unlucky souls. This cost the airlines billions of dollars and has also cost the numerous businesses in Iceland who rely on tourism. Einar Torfi Finnsson, Chief Marketing Officer of Icelandic Mountain Guides says,…”tour bookings, since the eruption began dropped immediately. But, even though air travel has resumed to near normal levels, people aren’t coming to Iceland for holidays.” Einar went on to say, “people have the perception that somehow Iceland is a disaster zone and that travelling here would be unsafe or somehow unpleasant. This is not the case. Though there was damage to local farms and a few roads, for the most part Iceland is operating as normal.”
I know this first hand. I had the opportunity to travel to Iceland in late May and am happy to report that I spent a fair amount of time wondering where all the damage was. The only evidence I saw was the bridge, located very near Eyjafjallajokull, that was purposely torn-down, in sections, by engineers (to allow flood waters to pass by the bridge without completely destroying it). This bridge is about 2 hours south of Reykjavik and I passed over this bridge on my way to Skaftafell National Park. It was along this section of Iceland’s ring road, heading south, that I noticed the most damage, mostly in the form of pervasive ash.
But, still I was left to wonder, where was all the damage? What is all the media hype about? Back in the US, watching the news coverage of the volcanic eruption would leave you to believe that Iceland was experiencing some kind of armageddon. I am not trying to make light of the disruption to air travel – that was like armageddon. But in Iceland, just one month after the eruption began, there was little direct evidence of any damage.
Enter Inspired by Iceland. This marketing campaign/project was started by the actor Viggo Mortensen and a few others to get people coming back to Iceland by sharing their own stories about how Iceland has inspired them. Apparently, Iceland has some powerful allies; in the short period of time the site has up, it has accumulated hundreds of stories, videos, and photos from everyday travelers to politicians, stars and powerful business people – all trying to spread the message that Iceland is still here and still beautiful. The project was funded by the Icelandic Tourist Association.
And, Iceland tends to inspire. You can’t help it. Iceland reminds people that the earth was once wild and clean and beautiful. Iceland has clean air, clean water, unique and exotic landscapes, and open spaces so you can be alone with your thoughts and nature. Or, if you want to party like you have two livers, Reykjavik, the capital city has a rather infamous nightlife. Either way, Inspired by Iceland urges people to come experience Iceland first hand, then share your experience with others.
So, what inspired me? I did two Iceland tours. One where I got to ride in a super jeep onto a glacier and the other, a glacier-hike day tour near Skaftafell National park. They were both amazing experiences. – David Brooks
About the Author
David Brooks is an Iceland travel enthusiast and part-time writer.