Managing a popular tourist attraction can be kind of like throwing a party — everyone wants to come and have fun, but nobody wants to help clean up when it’s over.
But the Faroe Islands, a group of autonomous islands located between Iceland and Norway and under the jurisdiction of Denmark, have come up with an innovative way to take care of their home and welcome visitors at the same time.
An official notice on the islands’ national tourism website reads “closed for maintenance, open for voluntourism.”
Following a successful pilot scheme this year, the country has made the decision to “close” its major tourism sights and attractions during the weekend of April 16-17, 2020. Hotels will be open, and flights will continue.
That weekend, people all over the island archipelago will be working on conservation projects and, as the tourism board puts it, “delivering a touch of TLC to the Faroese countryside.”
However, people who are just dying to visit the Faroes during that weekend can sign on to help with the housekeeping. The islands are looking for 100 volunteers to come to the country to assist with the caretaking efforts.
There were thousands of applications for the 2019 scheme, so would-be islanders better apply fast.
“For us, tourism is not all about numbers,” Guðrið Højgaard, Director at Visit Faroe Islands, “We welcome visitors to the islands each year, but we also have a responsibility to our community and to our beautiful environment, and our aim is to preserve and protect the islands, ensuring sustainable and responsible growth.”
The first batch of voluntourists included travellers from Mexico, Israel, Australia, China and the United States. Højgaard confirmed that because of the surprising popularity of the volunteering weekend in 2019, the Faroes will host the event annually.
Faroe Islands’ capital, Tórshavn, has a population of about 13,000, according to data from the United Nations.
According to the Faroes’ tourism authority, visits to the country have increased by 10% over the past few years.