The Faroe Islands will “shut for maintenance” during the last weekend in April and instead welcome voluntourists keen to preserve the island nation’s natural beauty.
The island nation in the north Atlantic welcomes about 100,000 visitors a year keen to experience its scenery – its cliffs, sea caves and waterfalls – and abundant wildlife.
However, with a population of just 50,000 Faroese people – and 80,000 sheep – the country will close to tourism for one week a year, that is unless visitors are prepared to roll up their sleeves and work alongside the Faroese people to keep the islands unspoiled.
While the Faroe Islands doesn’t currently suffer with over-tourism, its delicate environment and ecosystem has felt the strain of the growing stream of visitors.
Its sustainable solution is to close for maintenance and open for voluntourism one weekend a year, initially, to put willing visitors to work.
The country’s first voluntourism weekend will take place over April 26-28. Projects will be led by local people keen to give their home a little TLC and ensure it’s ready for visitors throughout 2019.
The Faroese Maintenance Group is accepting applications for 100 voluntourists, who will be gifted with accommodation and board over April 25-27, with the works taking place on April 26-27.
There will a celebratory dinner on April 27 for all those involved, with visitors able to extend their stay if they wish.
Projects will include creating new walking paths, viewpoints and signage to preserve nature and protect birdlife sanctuaries. They will also vary in difficulty and endeavour and cater to different skill sets.
“We are delighted more and more people are discovering how special our islands are - our scenery, our unique way of life, our food and our people,” said Guorio Hojgaard, director of Visit Faroe Islands.
“You can find peace and quiet wherever you go, even in our lively capital city, Torshavn.
“For us, tourism is not all about numbers. 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.”
Faroes prime minister Aksel V Johannesen has also backed the campaign, which will work with local villagers and farmers to identify areas where maintenance is required.
The country hopes the project will create a sustainable future for the islands and inspire other countries to follow suit by setting up their own maintenance crews.