Íslenski Hesturinn – The Icelandic Horse, horse rental, is celebrating 8 years now. The first tour was done in February 2011, but preparations started around this time in 2010. From the start the vision of Begga has been to take tourism in Iceland to a higher level by offering high quality tour with high standards. One of the key element was to have certified tour guides on all tours as well as a well trained staff. Begga is the first educated/certified tour guide in Iceland who is a full time horseback riding guide as a whole year profession. Is that pioneering and something unique? Yes, it is because most companies (if not all) still use staff which are not professional tour guides. We, at Íslenski Hesturinn are happy to be able to offer our tours with a professional team and our wonderful horses all year round.
Our main challenge for 8 years has been to fight horse rentals which take advantage of social dumping, by “employing” girls (it’s mostly girls) from abroad for short time and not paying them salary in accordance with Icelandic laws and regulations, see more info, article about this here. There is a very strong indication that some horse rentals have cheated for tens of millions ISK each year by using fraudulent methods. For the girls “working” for them they often only get pocket money which covers some minor expenses which the girls get paid for their work. This is what we are competing with and this is making it hard and/or almost impossible for us to survive. There are over 160 horse rentals in Iceland and there is an indication that over 80% (based on information in an article in Icelandic newspaper) are not paying wages as they should. This damages our business seriously. If nothing changes, we will not be around to celebrate our 9th anniversary (but we hope for the best as we love this so much). The firms which take advantage of social dumping save huge amounts on taxes and other wage related fees, gaining a huge competitive advantage against the firms (horse rentals) who do things legally.
We have tried to notify authorities and all who we can think of to make awareness of the problem since the article came out (in marts 2018), but without any clear indication that there is any will to face the matters.
Dear guest please be sure that you book with a company that is fair with their staff and follows the law in Iceland. Human rights and social rights matters for all of us.
Photo above: Begga leading a group, photo taken by Christiane Slawik