Between 26th to 28th April, the rugged remote but exquisitely beautiful Faroe Islands shut down to tourists. The only ‘outsiders’ allowed the 100 volunteers, who signed up to clean and work on the islands. Aged between 18 and 75, they have come from 25 countries, including as far afield as Australia. These "voluntourists" agreed to pay for their own flights and work for two days on selected sites. In return, they are fed and lodged without charge.
The Faroe Islands are located halfway between Iceland and Norway and are home to rugged cliffs, waterfalls and plenty of birdlife and sheep. With only 50,000 residents, the islands manage to welcome about 100,000 people each year, seeing a 10% growth in tourists in recent years. While the islands are not struggling with the overtourism problems that can be found elsewhere in the world, they do have a fragile natural environment that is susceptible to increased visitor numbers.
The work that they had to do – fencing, making trail markers on famous trail roads, fixing a few trails, digging water channels, repair a damaged pass and also constructing viewpoints to help preserve nature and protect birdlife sanctuaries. A similar project for 2020 has already been announced.
This kind of concept, of “voluntourism” is a great way to build an attitude of responsible tourism and maybe, a good publicity campaign to get more visitors. Maybe we should try this in India too….especially for responsible tourism.