A Break from Overtourism: Domestic Tourists Reclaiming Nature during the COVID-19 Pandemic
2.1. The Impacts of Overtourism on Residents at Nature Destinations
2.2. Overtourism in Iceland and the Emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic
3.1. The Study Area
3.2. The Interviews and Research Participants
- Personal identification, i.e., name and place of residence in Iceland.
- Characteristics of their trip to Landmannalaugar, including how long they planned to stay in the area, what activities they engaged in, and whether their stay in Landmannalaugar was part of a larger trip within Iceland.
- Their motivation for visiting Landmannalaugar in 2020.
- The expectations for their stay in Landmannalaugar, as well as previous knowledge about Landmannalaugar. The participants were asked if they had been to Landmannalaugar before, and if so, how their previous experience had been compared to the experience in 2020.
- Their experience in Landmannalaugar, and whether something was particularly enjoyable or disappointing.
- Their perception of the number of visitors and crowding in Landmannalaugar.
4.1. Landmannalaugar Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic
We know what it was like twenty-five years ago. There was nobody here then, not during summer and not during winter. Just a few people. Especially in winter, you would just be alone in nature. Then I came here on a motorcycle about four years ago. After a long wait. And it was a culture shock to see what had happened. One bus next to the other, one tent next to the other.
We have not stayed here overnight in many years. It’s simply been full. Just no space. You are just right up to the next person and we prefer not to be in these crowds. If that is the case, you might just as well go to Lækjartorg (main square in the city centre of Reykjavík).
4.2. Opportunities for Domestic Tourism
You know, there are many who are thinking that now is a good chance, you know, now that there is not as much tourism. Then you are maybe a bit more intrigued to visit the main places which, you know, you have been thinking “Ugh no, it’s way too crowded, I don’t want to go there”.
4.3. Perception of the Decline in International Tourism
What I find most appealing is being far away from civilisation. It was sort of difficult to get here yesterday. We were on a horse back in a landscape where we were alone in the world. The whole world was just ours. Then we rode into this area (Landmannalaugar) and just “ugh”, so full of people. I don’t enjoy that.
I have to say that there are more people here than I expected given the circumstances we have right now. For the economy, of course, and the people running the tourism business here and everything, that is positive. Of course, you enjoy it more when there are fewer people around. There are pros and cons to everything. But yeah, if we consider what this summer looked like at the beginning of the pandemic, then the number of people here is just really positive.
4.4. Perception of Increased Domestic Tourism
I feel like it’s been quite disappointing these past few years that we have not been able to connect with our own nature attractions. But now is our chance.
Before, there were more people. We didn’t hear a lot of Icelandic. So, it is very fun right now to hear this much Icelandic and we have already talked to so many people, you know.
You notice that there are obviously more Icelanders travelling this summer, you know. They seem to be travelling around the whole country, thankfully. I think it’s very important that you get to know your country. To travel a bit in your own country and not always just abroad. I say that if you do not visit the main nature attractions in Iceland, then you are really missing out.
Travelling this much in Iceland this summer has got me thinking: “Yes, I am just always going to do this in the future, use the summer in Iceland to travel in Iceland and if I want to go abroad I will rather do that in winter”.
5. Discussion and Implications
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Wendt, M.; Sæþórsdóttir, A.D.; Waage, E.R.H. A Break from Overtourism: Domestic Tourists Reclaiming Nature during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Tour. Hosp. 2022, 3, 788-802. https://doi.org/10.3390/tourhosp3030048
Wendt M, Sæþórsdóttir AD, Waage ERH. A Break from Overtourism: Domestic Tourists Reclaiming Nature during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Tourism and Hospitality. 2022; 3(3):788-802. https://doi.org/10.3390/tourhosp3030048Chicago/Turabian Style
Wendt, Margrét, Anna Dóra Sæþórsdóttir, and Edda R. H. Waage. 2022. "A Break from Overtourism: Domestic Tourists Reclaiming Nature during the COVID-19 Pandemic" Tourism and Hospitality 3, no. 3: 788-802. https://doi.org/10.3390/tourhosp3030048