A decade ago, Iceland was a sleepy country that welcomed a healthy, but not significant, number of visitors each year. Then Instagrammers discovered its spectacular natural beauty — and the once-pristine country became a stomping ground (literally) for obnoxious tourists.
In pursuit of Instagram glory, travelers to the nation have trampled fragile moss, sat on glaciers, flown drones over wildlife, offroaded into protected geothermal areas and, in at least one case, peed in the countryside. In response to the degradation, the Iceland tourist board was forced to issue a statement: "It's a shame Instagrammers behave like this."
A shame? Yes. Surprising? Not at all.
Around the world, influencers and regular-old travelers alike are destroying local environments, posing provocatively at sites of tragedy and even putting their own lives at risk, all in a vain attempt to drum up interest on social media.
Less damningly, but still troublingly, many are lying about their travels on social platforms and posting so incessantly that they're forgetting to, you know, actually enjoy their vacation.
What's behind this troubling phenomenon? What can be done to curb the problem? And just how bad are things anyways?
These questions have complicated answers — but if Iceland is any indication, they need to be asked.