Bernt Apeland, general secretary of the Norwegian Red Cross, said things can not continue as they are today after visiting the vertigo-inducing Trolltunga tourist attraction.
Apeland visited the Trolltunga, a famous rock promontory that juts out 700m above Ringedalsvatnet, a lake three hours west of Bergen, to meet local first aid volunteers from the NGO.
“This trend cannot continue. I fear that the burden [on Red Cross personnel] will be even bigger and go beyond what we can cope with,” Apeland told broadcaster NRK after hiking to the site.
Volunteer first aiders have been despatched to the site to help tourists in distress in increasing numbers in recent years, reports NRK.
40 rescue operations were carried out last summer alone, according to the report.
In recent years, the number of tourists braving the four-hour hike to Trolltunga has increased dramatically from just 500 people in 2009 to 40,000 people in 2014, with 100,000 people expected to visit the site this year.
Apeland called for more guidance for inexperienced tourists, and said that much of the potential danger could be reduced by implementing security guards.
“They can be in the field all the time and help when people are unlucky, so that local volunteers do not have to rescue tourists who could maybe save themselves. Many people do not really need a lot of help to come down safely,” he said to NRK.
The Red Cross general secretary added that this could apply to many other popular sites in the mountainous Norwegian countryside as well as the iconic Trolltunga.
Knut Atle Øyre, the leader of the local Tyssedal branch of the Red Cross, said that increased presence in the field could help prevent bigger rescue operations, and added that a planned 200-person accommodation near Trolltunga could be used as a base for patrols.
“Coordination for field patrols who can monitor the terrain and as such reduce the number of rescue missions could be based here,” he told NRK.
Øyre added that he hoped that Red Cross' central office would put more pressure on authorities to establish such an initiative.
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