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Contracts with private businesses

Many unique locations within the National Park are very popular tourist destinations. In the management of these destinations, Vatnajökull National Park emphasises the importance of providing visitors with a positive service experience and that sustainability be a guiding principle in the interactions with all companies that organise trips or offer other kinds of services in the relevant areas.

To further that objective, Vatnajökull National Park makes agreements with companies that wish to provide their customers with services within the National Park, especially in the most popular destinations. These take the form of service provider agreements that are made on the basis of the National Park's economic policy and Article 15 a in the National Park Code.

Private business contracts include conditions that sustainability and nature conservation shall be ensured while providing high-quality experiences. They also address safety requirements for visitors, and according to the Act on the Icelandic Tourist Board no. 96/2018 anyone intending to perform organised tours within Icelandic territory shall prepare a written safety plan for each type of tour. For further information go to the website of the Icelandic Tourist Board.

For destinations that require management, the usual procedure is to issue announcements to invite applications from companies that are interested in providing their services there. It is stated in these announcements whether limitations apply regarding the scope or number of private businesses who engage in comparable activities within the National Park or specific areas thereof.

Contracts regarding ice cave trips and glacier walks

On 1 August 2023, applications were invited for a contract regarding ice cave trips and glacier walks on Breiðamerkurjökull (to the west and south of Jökulsárlón), Falljökull/Virkisjökull and Skeiðarárjökull.

Companies can also apply to be allocated facilities within the National Park and granted use of land. If the land is a defined lot a lot-lease agreement will be made following the announcement. Use of land owned by the state for commercial purposes is otherwise governed by Act no. 100/2021, the main principle of which is that in the treatment of state-owned land the emphasis shall be on clearly defined, efficient and economic use and also transparency, objectivity and equality in decision-making. When disposing of land sustainable development, safety concerns and other environmental considerations shall be kept in mind, and efforts shall be made to minimise negative environmental effects resulting from activities.

Private business policy

Since the National Park was founded in 2007, it has been necessary to respond to the growing number of applications from operators who wish to conduct business with facilities or in specific locations within the National Park. For this reason, conditions regarding private business contracts were included in the National Park Code in 2016 and its private business policy was approved in 2019.