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Haverford College

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Program Name

Iceland and Greenland: Climate Change and The Arctic


The tourism industry in Iceland has grown exponentially in the last decade, causing changes to the natural landscape and drastically shifting revenue streams in the economy. This rapid growth coupled with the recent development of Iceland’s tourism industry makes it the perfect case study for how to effectively mitigate tourism influxes. This unprecedented rate of growth impels the creation of sustainability measures within this industry in order to ensure a lasting vision of Icelandic tourism in the future. Both the government and private sector have already begun to institute sustainability measures in society and in business. The primary aim of this study is to create a macroscopic picture of what drives sustainable tourism in Iceland by determining what has shaped the industry thus far. Interviews were conducted with a government official, the leader of a privately-funded tourism organization, and employees in tourist companies in order to gain insight into the industry. Various secondary sources such as economic reports from the Icelandic government and tourism anthropology papers provided a basis for analyzing the interview data. The overwhelming conclusion from this research was that the creation of sustainable tourism relies on accountability and quality assurance, transparency of shared knowledge, and most profoundly, a commitment to ethical business practice. This research reflects that business guided by ethics was the primary factor motivating people within the tourism sector to institute sustainability measures. Testimonies from both government officials and employees in the private sector reflects that the success Iceland has had so far in mitigating the tourist influx has been reliant on their singular mission of sustainability. Looking forward, maintaining sustainability within the industry will rely on continued partnership and commitment to ethical business.


Environmental Law | Environmental Policy | Environmental Studies | European Languages and Societies | Natural Resource Economics | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sustainability | Tourism and Travel


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