Why we closed
The pristine Faroe Islands – a group of volcanic islands in the North Atlantic, halfway between Iceland and Norway – welcome around 100,000 visitors each year, attracted by the country’s dramatic scenery, including rugged cliffs, sea caves, spectacular waterfalls and an abundance of birdlife, not forgetting a population of just 50,000 Faroese people and their 80,000 sheep.
But, for one weekend in spring 2019, the Faroe Islands closed to tourists.
Why? Because we are keen to keep our green islands unspoiled.
Notably – and happily – the Faroe Islands currently have no over-tourism problems. However, the fragile natural environment in a few popular tourist locations has felt the effects of an increase in visitors. These areas needed a helping hand to ensure they remain pristine; sustainability is the goal.
Our idea was, quite simply, to close for maintenance and open for voluntourism over the weekend of Friday 26 to Sunday 28 April 2019 – and to repeat and expand on this idea each year.
Only those prepared to work with locals over the maintenance weekend were allowed to visit these locations. There were a raft of projects led by local people, aimed at delivering a touch of TLC to the Faroese countryside and to ready it for visitors in 2019.
The Faroes’ Prime Minister, Aksel V. Johannesen, joined the campaign by inviting volunteers to lend a helping hand.
The campaign worked with local villagers and farmers to identify several areas where a little TLC would help to preserve the infrastructure and would pave the way for a sustainable future for the islands.
We hope that our new project may inspire other countries to follow suit, and to set up their own Maintenance Crews, thereby encouraging tourists to help in whatever way is needed to deal with the particular problem/s affecting that destination.
The Faroe Islands have seen a growth of approximately 10% in tourists in recent years and, while the country welcomes visitors with open arms, it also wishes to ensure that over-tourism never becomes an issue.
Read more here about how you can sign-up for 2020.