Iceland mayors object to Google snow

Winter in Bolungarvík, Iceland Image copyright
Image caption Winter in Bolungarvík

Two mayors in Iceland are campaigning to have Google Maps change its satellite image of their towns, which are shown as covered in snow.

Jón Páll Hreinsson says this could put overseas tourists off visiting Bolungarvík in the picturesque Western Fjords region, whose islands and fishing villages are already a popular summer destination for Icelanders, the RÚV public broadcaster reports.

"This snowbound image gets on my nerves," he told the Vísir news site, explaining why he sends the Google Maps site daily feedback about it - "I'll post a comment a day, until I get through to them".

'David and Goliath'

"I'm thinking of the millions who might be considering visiting the Western Fjords and then look at the map and see, well, nothing but snow," the mayor complained on his Facebook account, where he urged other people in the area to write to Google Maps too.

He acknowledges that he may be in a "David and Goliath" situation, and appeals to "any Icelanders working at Google to get in touch" if they want to help.

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Jón Páll has an ally in Guðmundur Gunnarsson, mayor of Ísafjörður, the main town in the Western Fjords, who has also been lobbying Google about the snowbound image - as has his predecessor.

"Imagine someone wondering whether to head west or north and this is what they see, while it's all green and beautiful in the other direction - I think they'd take that into consideration when deciding which way to go," he told Vísir.

Image copyright
Image caption Bolungarvík has its season in the sun

He also points out the incongruity that anyone homing in on snowy Ísafjörður via the Google Maps Street View feature suddenly find themselves on a pavement on a beautiful sunny day.

"We've nothing against snow, and we sometimes get enough to open the ski slopes, but it's not exactly a realistic day-to-day picture," Mayor Guðmundur maintains.

'Björk's dad'

He entertains hope of success based on past experience, as he managed to persuade another internet giant - Wikipedia - to remove his photograph from its site.

His picture was used to illustrate an article about the singer Björk's father, also called Guðmundur Gunnarsson. "So I used to be a 74-year-old electrician on Wikipedia - until I got it corrected," he notes with satisfaction.

Image copyright
Image caption Winter in Ísafjörður has its attractions

Reporting by Matilda Welin and Martin Morgan

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