From 26-28 April, 100 volunteers from 25 countries were welcomed by the Faroe Islands to join forces with locals to lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future for their unspoiled islands.
The archipelago declared the islands “closed for maintenance” over the weekend, but welcomed selected volunteers to come and help keep its famous sights ready for the summer tourist season.
More than 3,500 people applied to take part within the first four days of launching the campaign. The pilot project saw the temporary closure of 10 popular tourist sites in the Faroe Islands, with key maintenance projects identified by local municipalities, tourism centres and villagers.
Projects completed by the Maintenance Crews over the weekend included creating walking paths in well-trodden areas, constructing viewpoints to help preserve nature and protect birdlife sanctuaries, re-building ancient cairns and erecting signs and posts to aid wayfinding.
The 100 volunteers stayed in villages where they met and dined with locals.
“Although the Faroe Islands currently do not suffer from over-tourism, the fragile natural environment in a few popular tourist locations has felt the effects of around a 10% growth in visitors over recent years,” states the Visit Faroe Islands tourist promotion initiative. “Our archipelago, nestled halfway between Iceland and Norway, now sees around 110,000 visitors each year, attracted by the volcanic islands’ dramatic scenery, abundance of birdlife, friendly Faroese people and our 80,000 sheep.”
“Yes, it was a marketing campaign,” Jóhan Pauli Helgason, development manager for Visit Faroe Islands, told the Guardian newspaper. “But it was also about making genuine improvements to the tourist experience, and providing visitors and locals with a proper cultural exchange. We see that as a more sustainable version of tourism for a country with just 50,000 people.”