Tourism struggling as the Icelandic wilderness is developed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Nature, especially the wild and "untouched nature" has become an important resource for the tourist industry and outdoor recreation due to the experiences it can provide.Other industries sometimes have interests in the same areas as nature tourism and therefore land use conflicts can occur that require management of these natural resources. This paper seeks to explore the nature of wilderness experience in the Highlands of Iceland. The data is furthermore used to speculate about the conflicts that could occur between wilderness tourism and the power production industry in the Icelandic Highlands. The study was carried out with 1710 questionnaires, 51 in-depth interviews and 30 diaries. The data was collected at six Highland destinations where power plants have been proposed. The results imply that the Highlands are an important part of Iceland's attraction, especially for the French, Dutch and German markets. The main conclusion is that for most visitors the wilderness experience will be reduced if the plans for power production in the Highlands are realised. As land use allocation issues have not been resolved in Iceland we can expect an ongoing debate on how to use the Highlands. In order to have better tools when discussing the utilisation of the Highlands it is necessary to work on a Master Plan for tourism land use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-357
Number of pages24
JournalScandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funds provided by The Icelandic Tourist Board, The Road Authority, the Icelandic Technology Development Fund (Project number: 996130099). I thank Rögnvaldur Ólafsson the managing director of the Regional Research Centres of the University of Iceland for reading the manuscript and for his continuing interest in the project. I thank Guðmundur Ó. Ingvarsson geographer for map making. I also thank Guðrún Gísladóttir, professor, and Rannveig Ólafsdóttir, associate professor, at the Department of Geography and Tourism studies, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland for helpful comments. Finally I wish to thank the two anonymous referees and the editors for valuable comments.

Other keywords

  • Highlands
  • Iceland
  • Land use conflicts
  • Power plants
  • Wilderness experience


Dive into the research topics of 'Tourism struggling as the Icelandic wilderness is developed'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this