The Faroe Islands, an 18-island archipelago midway between Iceland and Norway, will shutter its doors to tourists the weekend of April 16-17 in 2020 unless they want to help locals keep the rocky isles clean and unspoiled.
"Although the Faroe Islands currently do not suffer from overtourism, the fragile natural environment in a few popular tourist locations has felt the effects of around a 10 percent growth in visitors over recent years," the tourism board said on its website. "Our archipelago, nestled halfway between Iceland and Norway, now sees around 110,000 visitors each year, attracted by the volcanic islands’ dramatic scenery, abundance of birdlife, friendly Faroese people and our 80,000 sheep."
Last spring, about 100 volunteers from 25 countries were invited to take part in various projects in what was dubbed a "voluntourism weekend" that also took place in April.
The pilot program saw the closure of 10 popular tourist sites in the Faroe Islands as key maintenance projects identified by local municipalities, tourism centers, and villagers were undertaken.
"Projects completed by the maintenance crews over the weekend included creating walking paths in well-trodden areas, constructing viewpoints to help preserve nature and protect birdlife sanctuaries, re-building ancient cairns and erecting signs and posts to aid wayfinding," according to the tourism board.
Over the weekend, the volunteers stayed in villages where they mingled with locals.
The "working weekend" in 2020 is expected to be very similar to the one in 2019, and include projects in 14 locations across the Faroe Islands. Volunteers who sign up and are chosen will be provided with accommodation, food, and transport during the maintenance period. Registration began on Wednesday and runs for about 24 hours when 100 people will then be randomly chosen.
"Volunteers must, however, pay for transportation to the Faroe Islands themselves," according to the tourism board.
The windy islands, inhabited by about 50,000 people and 80,000 sheep, draw visitors to their dramatic scenery, with waterfalls and abundant birdlife.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.