Tourists are back in Iceland. But so is whale hunting

Must Read

Reykjavik, Iceland (CNN) – After a four-year hiatus, Iceland’s last remaining whale company, Hwalur HF, will resume hunting this summer, much to the chagrin of tourism officials.

Since the Kovid-19 epidemic has had a devastating effect on Iceland’s tourism industry, many tourism officials want the reaction to whale killing to be the last thing.

“It is actually well-known and widely reported that the tourism industry believes that whaling kills Iceland’s image as a tourist destination,” said Johannes ur Schulassen, executive director. Icelandic Tourist Board. “All you need to do is look at how whales are reported in the foreign press.”

Johannes continued, “It is mostly reported in large publications with warm coverage.” “In the tourism industry, both in private companies and in public opinion; in letters, phone calls and other communications, whales have a very specific impact, and tourism companies experience the moment when whales are discussed again.”

Representatives of the company have expressed outrage over the planned whale hunting. “The tourism industry and most Icelandic citizens are opposed to whales,” said Asberg Johnson, CEO. Travel ConnectA large travel services company based in Reykjavik.

“It is sad and disappointing to hear that this company wants to resume killing these animals in Havalur, Iceland. It does a lot of damage to our country’s reputation. This, in turn, affects our export and tourism industries.”

The stakes are high due to the suspension of tourism in the Icelandic plains during the height of the Covid-19 epidemic. “We’re an island, so obviously the barriers to traveling here are a little higher than people visiting a neighboring country,” said Sigridur Dog Goodmundsdotier. Visit Iceland.

Dependence on tourism

Whale watching is a popular tourist activity in Iceland.

Whale watching is a popular tourist activity in Iceland.

Matthew Williams-Ellis / VWPCS / AP

While Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on nations around the world, many countries are not as dependent on tourism as Iceland. Leading to the epidemic, tourism was the country’s largest export.

According to data from the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, the region’s growth peaked in 2017 when tourism accounted for 42% of the country’s total exports.

Following the epidemic, GDP growth was hit last year. Activities related to travel booking, air transport, accommodation and restaurants have declined by 50-75% since 2019. As a result, the tourism sector contracted by 3.9% of GDP in 2020.

Hawalur last sent his ships to hunt in the summer of 2018 and a total of 146 whales were caught during the season. Depending on the light, the whale season usually begins in June and lasts until September. It is estimated that about 150 people work on whale boats at the whale station in western Iceland and at the company’s processing facilities outside Reykjavik.

The tails of two 35-ton fin whales killed by predators in June 2009.

The tails of two 35-ton fin whales killed by predators in June 2009.

Halldor Kolbeins / AFP / Getty Images

Some argue that whales are a part of Icelandic culture and should be reintroduced.

“Whaling has a long tradition here in Iceland, and I think fair and controlled hunting should be allowed,” a casual worker at the whaling station, who did not want to be identified because it could affect his employment, told CNN Travel. “About 125-150 fin whales have been hunted each year in seven seasons since Iceland started hunting whales again in 2006. That year, I think only eight whales were hunted.”

Also Read  French court confirms ban on 'burkinis' in Grenoble swimming pools
Also Read  Why more air travel chaos is on its way

Negative emails

Tourism activists say whaling kills Iceland's reputation.

Tourism activists say whaling kills Iceland’s reputation.

Miles / Alstain Build / Getty Images

It is puzzling to many that Hvalur, run by CEO Christine Loftson, continues to hunt whales in light of environmental concerns and its poor financial affairs.

“It’s hard for us to understand why whaling is not just a harmful practice, it’s not even financially viable anymore,” said Asberg of Travel Connect.

Hvalur’s Loftsson declined to comment.

According to a 2019 report from Iceland’s Ministry of Industry and Innovation, Iceland’s whale activity accounts for about 3% of all whales hunted worldwide. In 2017, the total revenue of whale watching companies was 3.2 billion Icelandic kronor (26.5 million). Meanwhile, Havalur’s revenue from whaling activities in 2017 was 1.7 billion kroner ($ 14.1 million).

However, whale watching tours bring more revenue as it is a popular activity for tourists all year round.

Many are fed up with the impact of one company, especially since tourism companies are expecting a return to the “pre-covid” number of tourists this summer, and a controversial issue like whale hunting is frustrating.

“Overall, our travel brands haven’t experienced a lot of cancellations because of this, but every now and then, we receive negative emails about this topic,” Esberg said. “We always explain that as a company, we do not support whale hunting. Everyone should be able to see these wonderful creatures flourishing in their natural habitat.”

The last hurray?

Iceland's tourism was hit by Kovid.

Iceland’s tourism was hit by Kovid.

Ryan Payal / Getty Images

The 2022 season could be Hawalur’s last as current whaling licenses expire in 2023, and Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture will then decide whether to stop issuing whales from 2024. It seems that whale products are in low demand and this industry does very little for the Icelandic economy.

“Any whale in Icelandic waters is science-based and in accordance with international law,” Sigridure said. “Havalur has the necessary licenses to carry out whale activity this summer. It is up to the management and owners to decide whether they will use it and the Icelandic people and government decide whether any licenses will be issued in the future. In the last three years, only One mink whale and no big whales were caught. “

All Covid-19 restrictions Were picked up in March 2022, and tourism officials are hoping for a good summer.

“Tourism is doing well in Iceland,” Sigridur said. “In our forecasts, we expect normal-to-normal numbers this summer and full returns next year.”

Latest News

ETIAS EU entry scheme is postponed

(CNN) — Planning a trip to Europe next summer? The cost of living may be rising but there...

More Articles Like This