One of Iceland’s most pristine attractions is unable to sustain the tourist traffic generated by a Justin Bieber music video, with Icelandic authorities struggling to handle the logistics of protecting the environment while also allowing heavy footfall, reports Bloomberg.
The country has had to close Fjadrárgljúfur canyon as the vulnerable landscape is at risk of damage from the tourist hordes that have descended on the region ever since the canyon was featured in Bieber’s music video for the song "I'll Show You".
Booms have been erected and closed on the road leading to the canyon, where park ranger Hanna Jóhannsdóttir says she is being bribed daily by tourists trying to access the area.
"Food from people's home country is the most common bribery," she said, adding that she 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 which is finding itself too spectacular and too popular for its own good.
Last year 2.3 million tourists visited Iceland, representing an annual growth of 20% over the last eight years, which has been out of proportion with infrastructure that is needed to protect the volcanic landscape.
Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson 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.
"Rash behaviour by one famous person can dramatically impact an entire area if the mass follows," he told The Associated Press.
Bieber’s video has been watched over 440 million times on YouTube since 2015. In it, Bieber stomps on mossy vegetation, dangles his feet over a cliff and swims in the freezing river underneath the sheer walls of the canyon.
"In Justin Bieber's defence, the canyon did not, at the time he visited, have rope fences and designated paths to show what was allowed and what not," Gudbrandsson said.
Over 1 million people have visited the area since the release of the video, according to the Environment Agency of Iceland, leaving deep scars on its vegetation.
After remaining closed for all but five weeks this year, it is expected to reopen again this summer only if weather conditions are dry.
Another influx is expected though, as the canyon, as well as the nearby Skógar waterfall and the Svínafells glacier are featured in the last season of the popular HBO drama "Game of Thrones".