Nature-based tourism is a general term for travel activities in which people interact with land separate from humanity’s daily movements. Despite untouched land being the ideal locale, tourists also desire modern amenities and curated products. There is a tension between what level of development is idealized and desired, as development itself is counter to the founding ideal of nature-based tourism. In recent years, Iceland has experienced a boom in its nature-based tourism industry. The economic benefits are plentiful, but the growth in tourism has come with downsides ranging from increased vandalism and littering, to locals being priced out of the housing market. The rapidity and strength of tourism’s growth in Iceland provides an opportunity to examine the self-destructive cycle inherent in rapidly growing nature-based tourism. This case study aims to navigate the self-destructive cycle of nature-based tourism, understand the origins of Iceland’s nature-based tourism industry, and examine the ways in which this industry could become more sustainable.

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