Whale watching from Reykjavik with a model company
One of the criteria you can use to choose the right travel company is the accolades it receives for social responsibility and positive impact. The whale watching company Elding just received the new Model Company of Responsible Tourism award. So if want to go whale watching from Reykjavik they are a great choice.
Achieving balance at an Icelandic whale watching company
When the prize was given, it was remarked that “Elding is a [inspiration] for other tourism companies to continuously provide improvements and balance between environmental, economic and social issues.” This made curious to hear more from this Icelandic whale watching company. Sveinn H. Guðmundsson is the Environmental and Quality manager for Elding and he was kind enough to take time for an interview.
Hello Sveinn and congratulations on the award, can you please tell us what focus you have on social issues and the environment in your operations?
Hello and thank you!
Well 🙂 Elding has been using environmental management tool from 2007 when we joined Earth Check (then Green Globe). The tool gives us great guidelines in our environmental work, sustainability, and social responsibility. We recycle all waste that comes from our operation by offering recycling bins on all our premises. Waste, especially plastic, is reduced or eliminated by monitoring our purchasing carefully
Monitoring and reducing CO2 emissions
We also monitor our CO2 emission and take action to reduce our emissions. We have managed to reduce our emissions for the past few years. This makes us very happy. Elding is also a founding member of the Icelandic Wetland Foundation (Votlendissjóðurinn). We think it’s a great way to carbon offset a part of our operation.
Standing up to whaling by going whale watching from Reykjavik
In our social responsibility work, we do the things that are close to our heart. We have helped the fight against whaling for years by supporting IFAW (International Foundation of Animal Welfare), being a founding member of Ice Whale (Icelandic Whale Watching Association) and conducted research on marine wildlife in the bay of Faxaflói since 2007. This research gives us a great understanding of the whales and is also an effective tool against whaling.
Supporting Reykjavik Pride
Elding supports many local events and festivals. We, for example, support Reykjavík Pride every year with a Queer Cruise during the pride weekend (it’s the most fun one can have on a boat!)
I could go on and on but I think these few examples give a bit of insight!
What is your favorite tour by Elding and why?
As you mentioned Elding has teamed up with other local partners like ATV companies, horseback riding, day tours, etc. Elding operates activities on the sea. My personal favorite Elding tour would have to be our whale watching! I never get bored of sailing out, looking at the beautiful scenery around me with the city in the back, mount Esja and Akrafjall on one side, Snæfellsjökull glacier in a distance and Reykjanes peninsula on the other side. Sometimes I feel that the whales are just an extra. However, the excitement is always there when we see them! They make you feel so small when they come up to the water surface. You feel like you know so little about what hides underneath the water surface!
Do you have favorite places or activities in Iceland apart from the tours Elding offers?
My all-time favorite places are actually two. I can’t choose between the south coast and Breiðafjörður. Every time I drive the South coast I can’t believe how insanely beautiful it is. The mountains, waterfalls, black sand beaches and even the glacier lagoon. The islands on Breiðafjörður are a big part of me as well. I spent my summers there as a kid collecting eggs, eiderdown, hunting seabirds, and fishing. It was like going back 100 years in time.
What advice would you give to people that are visiting Iceland for the first time?
My advice is to do your research! Read about the places you will visit. Familiarise yourself with what to do and what you should avoid doing. Find responsible and preferably local hosts or tour activity operator and remember to enjoy!
Great advice from somebody that works for a model Icelandic whale watching company, thank you!