Over 60 percent of residents in Ísafjörður and the surrounding area of the West Fjords believe too many cruise ships dock in the town, RÚV reports. Over 100 ships are scheduled to dock in the town this summer, for the second summer in a row.
The data comes from a new opinion poll, part of a larger project being carried out by a task force evaluating the reception of cruise ships in the town. The task force has also held meetings and gathered statistics as part of the project. The results of the opinion poll were presented at an open meeting for stakeholders recently. “Many people consider it positive and fun to have a lot of life in the town but there are groups which don’t think we can accommodate more,” stated Sigríður Ólöf Kristjánsdóttir, director of the task force.
The survey was conducted online and had nearly 550 respondents from the town and surrounding area. Ísafjörður has a population of 2,500. While over 60 percent of respondents believe too many cruise ships are docking in the town, around one third believe the number is acceptable, while five percent believe the ships are too few. Forty percent of respondents believe cruise ship passengers have a positive impact on town life, 35 percent that they do not have a positive impact and 25 percent that they do not have a significant impact at all.
A majority of the respondents believe the town receives too few tourists in the fall, winter, and spring while over 70 percent believe the number of tourists is too high in the peak summer season. Of the nearly 550 respondents, 95 said they or the companies they work for receive revenue from cruise ship visits.
The poll’s respondents put forth many ideas on how to improve the reception of cruise ships in the town, suggesting environmental issues and pollution were among their primary concerns. It was suggested that a limit could be placed on the size of cruise ships. Some of the ships which have docked in Ísafjörður carry passengers numbering double, or even triple the population of the town.
Sigríður believes it is in the interest of town councils, authorities, and all other interested parties to organize cruise ship visits in order to be able to receive them well. “I think this is a collective issue, that we try to find a solution on these huge [ship] days which aren’t benefiting anyone, neither the passengers nor us who are receiving them. It is an issue we have to find a solution for. One small town community can’t do that alone, it’s a much bigger issue.”