Chinese real estate investor Huang Nubo has a vision: buy over 100 square miles of Icelandic land in the remote northeastern Grímsstadir á Fjöllum region for around $9 million, connect the Vatnajökull National Park with the Jökulsárgljúfur gorges (see photo above), and sink about $175 million into building a tourist destination for replete with a five-star, 120-room hotel, an 18-hole golf course, horseback riding facilities, and a separate five-star, 300-room hotel in the capital, Reykjavik, to host international conferences and house Huang's Icelandic headquarters (an airline might shuttle tourists between the two hotels). "There are places like Iceland, especially its northern part, which are the future paradises of environmental tourism," Huang recently told Iceland's Morgunbladid. He added that he'd been in love with Iceland ever since lopi (Icelandic wool) kept him warm 30 years ago while he was studying at the Peking University with Icelandic friends.
What a heartwarming story! Well, until we get to the complications. While Huang has reached a preliminary deal with private landowners, The Financial Times explains today, the Icelandic government has expressed concern about the tycoon and former Communist Party official purchasing what amounts to 0.3 percent of Iceland's told area. "China has been very active in buying up land around the world so we need to be aware of the international ramifications," interior minister Ögmundur Jónasson told The Financial Times. The paper explains that while Iceland may only have a population of 320,000, it "occupies a strategically important location between Europe and North America and has been touted as a potential hub for Asian cargo should climate change open Arctic waters to shipping." The Grímsstadir á Fjöllum region, moreover, is close to potential deepwater ports and includes one of Iceland's biggest glacial rivers.