- The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland has banned visitors after being damaged by an influx of tourists.
- The Environment Agency of Iceland told the Associated Press that it estimates that more than one million tourists have visited the location since 2015.
- “Game of Thrones” has filmed scenes for seasons seven and eight at the canyon, prompting more people to visit the former hidden gem.
- The site previously became popular after Justin Bieber filmed a music video there in 2015.
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Iceland’s Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was once considered a hidden gem, but being featured in scenes of “Game of Thrones” and as the backdrop for a Justin Bieber music video has turned it into one of the country’s most popular tourist spots.
According to the Associated Press, the Environment Agency of Iceland estimates that more than one million people have visited the canyon in the country’s southeast since Bieber released his video for “I’ll Show You” in 2015. And now that “Game of Thrones” has come to an end, even more travellers are expected to visit – despite the fact that people are now banned from entering.
The ban on visitors at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was recently implemented by environmentalists, but that hasn’t stopped people from going
Environmentalists are aiming to protect the site from large tourist groups, the AP reports. And to stop people from visiting, officials have placed warning signs and park rangers at the canyon’s entrance.
However, it appears that many people aren’t too discouraged by the ban on visitors. According to the AP, fresh footprints are often found throughout the canyon in the morning, indicating that visitors have snuck in overnight. Some tourists have also reportedly been seen jumping fences and walking past warning signs.
Visitors have also tried to bribe park ranger Hanna Jóhannsdóttir with food and vacations to let them enter the canyon, according to the AP.
“Food from people’s home country is the most common bribery,” Jóhannsdóttir told the AP.
‘Game of Thrones’ is said to have a lot to do with the influx of tourists
“Game of Thrones” could also be largely responsible for inspiring tourists to visit the canyon. Not only is Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon featured in the HBO series’ seventh and eighth seasons, but the nearby Skógar waterfall and the Svínafells glacier are also seen on the show.
On the final season premiere of “Game of Thrones,” Danaerys Targaryen and Jon Snow were shown flying dragons over the canyon.
It was a momentous scene given that it was Jon’s first time flying a dragon.
The location was used during season seven of the HBO series to show Jon battling the Night King’s army of wights beyond The Wall.
On Twitter, some fans have expressed interest in visiting Iceland to catch a glimpse of where parts of the show were filmed
Others have even gone on Icelandic tours to see the show’s filming locations.
Another location used in Game of Thrones ! I love watching the show knowing I’ve been there… makes me miss Iceland so much.
— Charissa Littlejohn (@CharissaLittlej) May 19, 2019
Iceland!! Game of Thrones tour Amazing day. pic.twitter.com/Zu09f94Lnt
— Patricia Evans (@Tricia3290) March 22, 2019
— Hannah Dempsey (@hajane) January 16, 2019
Officials in Iceland have also credited the canyon’s damage to Justin Bieber fans
Throughout his video for “I’ll Show You,” Bieber is seen running through the canyon, standing under sheets of ice, and rolling down the canyon. He also washes his face in the canyon’s waterfall, and skateboards down a nearby road.
The impact of Bieber’s video is clear. One of the top comments on his video reads: “I would give up my internet for a month just to see this wonderful place.”
“I was at that waterfall about two months ago,” another YouTube commenter wrote. “Iceland is beautiful.”
The canyon’s ban on visitors says a lot about how celebrities can shape the way people travel
When speaking to the AP, environment minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson said it is “a bit too simplistic to blame the entire situation on Justin Bieber.” Instead, he argued that any celebrity or influencer can play a major role in affecting tourism.
“Rash behaviour by one famous person can dramatically impact an entire area if the mass follows,” he told the AP.
He also defended the star by telling the AP that the canyon did not have “rope fences and designated paths to show what was allowed” at the time of Bieber’s visit.
Despite a ban on visitors, some Icelandic travel companies still appear to offer tours of the canyon. On the website of Iceland Unlimited, for example, travellers can book customised trips to the area. The website also cites Bieber’s video as a reason to visit the canyon.
However, a representative for Iceland Unlimited told INSIDER that the company does not advise its guests to visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon all year round.
“When the government closes the area, we do not take our guests there and do not advise our guests to go there,” a representative for Iceland Unlimited told INSIDER. “Everyday, we check online [to see] which areas are open for visit, and advise our guests accordingly for their tours.”
Similarly, a travel site called Secret Iceland also offers three-hour Jeep tours of Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, which cost approximately $US182 per person.
Representatives for The Environment Agency Iceland and Secret Iceland did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment.
UPDATE: May 20, 2019: A representative for Iceland Unlimited told INSIDER that the company only offers tours when Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is not closed by the government.
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