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How a Music Video Is Screwing Up Iceland

The pop star's new video was shot there
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2019 11:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – A large sign warns motorists that Iceland's Fjadrárgljúfur canyon is closed to visitors but drivers keep on coming down the narrow gravel road. A ranger at a roadblock has to explain why no one can pass: The vulnerable landscape cannot sustain more visitors. Blame Justin Bieber, the Canadian pop star with a worldwide reach, the AP reports. Bieber's magical music video "I'll Show You" was filmed at the canyon and seen by millions, creating overwhelming demand for the once-pristine spot. For a chance to follow in Bieber's footsteps, his fans are not letting a few fences, signs, or park rangers keep them away. Eager visitors try to sweet-talk ranger Hanna Jóhannsdóttir into opening the gate. Some offer bribes. They should know in advance it's not going to work.

"Food from people's home country is the most common bribery," said Jóhannsdóttir, who recently turned down a free trip to Dubai in exchange for looking the other way at trespassers. The Bieber-inspired influx is one part of a larger challenge for Iceland—the North Atlantic island nation may be too spectacular and too popular for its own good. Last year 2.3 million tourists visited Iceland, compared with just 600,000 eight years ago. The 20% annual uptick in visitors has been out of proportion with infrastructure that is needed to protect Iceland's volcanic landscape, where soil forms slowly and erodes quickly. Iceland's environment minister said it is "a bit too simplistic to blame the entire situation on Justin Bieber" but urged famous, influential visitors to consider the consequences of their actions. (Bieber recently set music aside to focus on "deep-rooted issues.")


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