Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How do you get tourists to come to a place called Iceland?

In an attempt to find something of interest to write about I went onto a webpage about Icelandic tourism operated by the Icelandic tourist board. I never got around to doing any reading because the photos were so enjoyable that I got lost in the images. My favorite was one promoting Icelandic scuba diving, something that most locals do not associate with our otherwise very lovely country. The reason is obvious when you look at the photo, please note that the fish is frozen stiff, if not dead of hypothermia. Maybe an image of a livelier looking specimen would have appeared more enticing. I for one will not be strapping on a tank here any time soon after seeing how the water affects the local fauna.

Another photo also made me smile, the one above showing a jumping whale. It was not the whale itself that caused my mirth but the text on the photo that read: “Iceland is among the 10 best destinations worldwide for whale watching”. Now, how much do you want to bet we ranked no. 10? If we had been no 1-5 it would have read “…among the 5 best.” So we range somewhere from 6-10 of all whale watching nations – not really impressive enough for someone really, really interested in seeing a whale to go out and buy a ticket over here. I mean how many whale watching nations are there in total? Not a lot more than ten. So we are maybe the worst whale watching nation in the world. Something you do not put on a tourism website obviously. But when I think about it, this low ranking does not make much sense. We have really nice sail boats used for these excursions, a lovely sea and mountainous scenery to enjoy while sailing – and lots of whales. So what happened here? The conclusion I have reached is that we lost points because the whale watchers polled witnessed harpooning too frequently. What a bummer. But seeing that we are likely to stop whaling in the near future since it is no longer chic, we might obtain a higher and more appropriate standing.

The web site was actually a goldmine of strangeness. The tent above for example. Why did whoever put it there surround it with rocks and stones? Is this a tourist and is he or she intending to take them back on the plane with them? The absence of sticks implies this has nothing to do with words never hurting the camper.

And this one, captioned: “Icelandic dairy products are of high quality.” Makes you want to jump on the next plane does it not? And why is the cow’s tail raised? In my mind that means only one thing and it ain’t pretty nor does it arouse an appetite for some high quality dairy products.

This one was captioned: “Icelandic girl on an Icelandic horse, holding an Icelandic dog.” Really? Is that not a bit too coordinated? An American beagle would have made it a bit less silly. And since they were really pounding the Icelandic theme, why leave out the fact that she is wearing and Icelandic woolen sweater? And given everything else, probably Icelandic shorts as well.

Then there was this one – “Ice climbing – South Iceland”. They made sure to separate it by dozens of photos from the scuba diving one, for obvious reasons.

But there were lots of non-funny, beautiful photos and I hope no one misunderstands the above and thinks Iceland is not the place to visit. Far from it. It is great. The photographer is one of our very best, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, and he did not do the captioning. This was done by the tourist board that has purchased the photos off him and allows one to download the photos for use. 

So living in such a wonderful country with so much to see and do, what should I spend the rest of my day doing? The snow outside does not really scream out for scuba diving so I guess I will just go out riding an Icelandic horse holding an Icelandic dog. Considering the weather I don't think I will wear Icelandic shorts though.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Frankly, Yrsa, the fish looks like it was hanging out a bit too close to the business end of the cow.

    But what really caught my eye was the one you show with rocks all about, but not on, a neon green tent. Living as I do on windy Mykonos, we always pile rocks on anything that could fly away, and if you look carefully at the tents in the background, rocks appear strategically placed on the borders of those tents.

    Which raises a question that perhaps you or, if not, the Iceland Tourist Board could answer: what sort of seismic Icelandic activity could account for why the green tent is the only one with its rocks off?

    Good to have you back, el numero uno.

  2. Yrsa, a few years ago, Reykjavik became an uber trendy place for hedonistic young Brits to go to, mainly because it was advertised as a place where lots of young people got falling down drunk on a weekend on very expensive drinks and vomited on the street. If people went for that, they'd go for a frozen fish I'm sure.

  3. I have camped there, at Landmannalaugur. The campground has a stash of heavy volcanic rocks that you use to weight your tent down so that it does not blow away.

    The wind was so strong, I saw other people's tents broken down and collapsed. Mine stayed standing, but the poles got so deformed that I still had to get them replaced when I came back.