Global Economy

The hottest property on the market comes with an active volcano

Owning a private island is so passé. Get an active volcano instead.

The Icelandic family that owns the land where a volcano emerged in March has received offers from prospective buyers interested in developing the site for tourism.

“I know this is for sale for the right price and we have already gotten at least two offers,” co-owner Anna Thordis Gudmundsdottir said in an interview. She’s one of 19 heirs who own the farm property known as Hraun. Thousands have flocked to see the eruption. Some have even tempted fate and barbecued hot dogs on the lava. The fascination with the volcano, which could remain active for years, is expected to become the country’s hottest destination, literally, when tourism returns. The landowners have worked with authorities to secure safe access for the public and have no intention to limit foot traffic on their land unless safety is compromised.

Icelandic law has for centuries protected people’s right to pass through privately-owned land on foot. Still, increased tourism before the pandemic had sparked a debate about landowners’ right to collect entrance fees from visitors to many of Iceland’s natural treasures located on private land.

Prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said the state isn’t planning to buy the land, but that potential new owners of the land would not be allowed to limit public access to the site. The government has earmarked 70 million kronur ($564,000) of public funds to build infrastructure and surveillance at the site. Landowners do have an undisputed right to collect a fee for services provided on their land.

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