With one magical video, Justin Bieber has made a pristine Icelandic canyon famous around the world. And that’s the problem.
Icelandic environmental officials have had to close off the Fjadrárgljúfur canyon to protect it from the hordes of Bieber fans who are determined to visit the site. And these fans are not letting a few fences, signs or park rangers keep them away.
It’s just one example of the challenges to Iceland’s fragile environment poised by its growing popularity with international visitors.
Last year 2.3 million tourists visited the North Atlantic island nation, compared with just 600,000 eight years ago. The 20% annual uptick in visitors has been out of proportion with systems needed to protect Iceland’s volcanic landscape, where soil forms slowly and erodes quickly.