Iceland Rocks

Published Tuesday, 2nd July 2019 in Study at SRUC news

Gulfoss (Golden Falls) in the South West of Iceland
Gulfoss (Golden Falls) in the South West of Iceland

A tourism lecturer from Scotland’s Rural College has been learning about what makes Iceland a ‘hot’ travel destination on a study tour to the Nordic island.

Claire Donaldson, who teaches tourism-related modules to Rural Business and Countryside Management students at SRUC’s Ayr campus, visited Iceland as part of an Erasmus-funded ‘learning journey’.

The trip took in three different lagoons – including the iconic Blue Lagoon, and several of the country’s spectacular geomorphological features such as the Geysir and Gullfoss, as well as providing the opportunity to visit some of the most successful diversified farms on the Golden Circle – a tourist route in southern Iceland.

At the end of the week, the group of tourism professionals was given a presentation from Visit Iceland which highlighted how the country has managed to overcome the financial crash in 2008 and the volcano eruption in 2010, to grow its tourist industry.

Claire said: “It was an incredible experience. I feel very lucky to have been selected for such a fantastic and unique opportunity.

“It gave us the chance to compare businesses and how they manage to appeal to both residents and visitors alike. Storytelling and authenticity played a significant role in all of the businesses we visited.

“They were willing to talk about everything from financial issues to horticultural science, as well as giving us hands-on experiences and recipes to take away.”

One of the more unusual highlights of the trip was the experience of eating in a restaurant next to cows on the other side of a glass wall.

“It gives you a real sense of respecting and appreciating your food – as well as highlighting zero food miles,” said Claire.

She now plans to integrate what she has learnt about Iceland’s niche rural and food tourism into her courses at SRUC, which cover everything from eco and natural heritage tourism to countryside and recreation.

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