Inspirational Destination: Faroe Islands

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Faroe Islands

The inhabitants of the Faroe Islands are used as ambassadors for the island. This way you can eat at local residents’ homes. You will not only get into conversation with the residents, but also enjoy local dishes.

The Faroe Islands is a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, in the triangle between Scotland, Norway and Iceland. Although the destination is not yet well known, it is an excellent example of a destination where identity, inhabitants, tourism development and preservation of natural and cultural values go hand in hand.

The destination

The Faroe Islands are far away from everything and everyone. The 18 volcanic islands have (just like Texel) more sheep than people. There are 70,000 sheep against about 52,000 inhabitants. Many houses also have grass roofs, with sheep mowing the grass instead of mowers.

Some facts

  • The prime minister’s number is in the telephone book.
  • There is no prison and there are only three traffic lights.
  • There are no trees on the island.
  • The population consists of 80 different nationalities.
  • More than 50% of the electricity comes from renewable energy sources.
  • Atlantic Airways and Scandinavian Airlines offer non-stop flights from various destinations.

In 2013, the island group decided to focus more on tourism, in particular to stimulate the economy. There are now around 110,000 visitors a year. About 50,000 of these come for a short stay with a cruise ship. There were a total of 184,000 overnight stays in 2018 (source: Hagstova Føroya). The visitors mainly come for the dramatic landscapes, the large variety of bird species (more than 110 species) and the many hiking opportunities.

Why does it inspire us?

In the news it has often been about over-tourism and the contradictions between residents, nature or culture on the one hand and tourism on the other. The most recent report from the Dutch Council for the Environment and Infrastructure on Tourism provides a more nuanced picture of the problem and argues, among other things, that the tourist pressure should be set against the capacity of the living environment, a strengthening of the capacity and attention of governments including development strategies and the development of associated tools.

On the Faroe Islands, they let tourism policy, marketing and development go hand in hand. In addition, they remain true to their identity and respond to this in various ways. Below are four reasons why we are excited by this island group.

#1: Closed for maintenance

Since 2019, important tourist locations have been closed during two days in April. Under the motto “closed for maintenance, open for voluntourism” maintenance is being performed these days by around 100 volunteers from all over the world. Together with residents, ten projects are selected that are selected by municipalities, tourist offices and residents, such as the realization of signposting, the installation of drainage or stairs, the construction of a walkway or the construction of a lookout point. The projects are all aimed at developing facilities to manage visitor flows in a targeted manner and thereby protect the landscape.

Volunteers could apply and in four days there were more than 3500 registrations. At the end of the two days, the volunteers are offered a banquet that is provided by local companies.

#2: Inhabitants as ambassadors

The inhabitants of the Faroe Islands are used as ambassadors for the island. This way you can eat at local residents’ homes. You will not only get into conversation with the residents, but also enjoy local dishes.

A second example is about one’s own language. Because Google Translate does not support the Faroese language, they set up their own platform: Faroër Islands Translate.


Hereby you can enter a sentence on the website and this will then be translated by a local resident. He makes a video with the translation and pronunciation with his own smartphone and places it on the website This creates an increasingly extensive database of translations from different languages.

#3: Sheepview

#4: Preservolution

The new destination management policy of the island group is based on two principles: protection (preserve) and further development (evolution). In summary: preservolution. Tourism is used as a means for positive change of the island (economically, more open to the world, infrastructural) and preservation of cultural and nature values.

Four pillars are central to policy:

A. Quality over quantity: the focus is mainly on quality-conscious tourists who want to communicate with the local population and want to participate in authentic tourist experiences (and are willing to pay for this). The number of cruise ships is also limited and people will focus more on smaller ships that stay longer and make a greater economic contribution to the community. The marketing efforts mainly focus on removing barriers, extending the stay, repeat visits and strengthening the shoulder seasons.

B. Tourism for all Faroe Islands, all year round: focused on a year-round stable income from tourism to thereby also strengthen economic sustainability and spread across all islands. They focus on strengthening the local tourist offices, better signposting, optimizing infrastructure and promoting distribution through marketing.

C. Knowledge and professionalization: the aim is to strengthen the capacity of the island’s tourism capacity. To do this, knowledge about the (economic) impact of tourism is being strengthened, the behavior of guests during and after their stay is mapped out, work is being done to strengthen the competences of residents and staff and a continuous flow of facts about tourism and the weakening of myths about tourism.

D. A common legislative framework: setting up common legislation for nature use, guidelines for walkers and landowners and strengthening nature and animal protection in laws and practice. In addition, efforts are being made to introduce a Nature Preservation Fee with which a fund is set up for projects aimed at nature conservation and the introduction of tourist tax for cruise ships.