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Copenhagen begins its journey towards sustainable tourism

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In recent years global tourism has increasingly been seen as a challenge to sustainability. In the future tourism shouldn’t be a part of the problem, but on the contrary be part of the solution towards a sustainable transition. This is the ambition at the heart of Copenhagen’s first strategy on sustainable tourism, Tourism for Good, which has just been launched by the official DMO of the Danish Capital, Wonderful Copenhagen.

Tourism for Good is one of the first strategies for sustainable tourism in the world to address sustainability from a both environmental, social and economic perspective, and at the same time contribute directly to the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In its new strategy, Wonderful Copenhagen has identified 8 SDG’s and 15 targets that Tourism for Good will contribute to.

Tourism as a driver for positive change

It matters what choices a tourist makes when they are visiting the destination and how they consume. Therefore, it is an important part of the strategy to develop and promote products which take sustainability into consideration. Another point of action will be to collect data and target the segments that contribute most positively to sustainable destination development. It will be key to use marketing tools to nudge travellers towards sustainable choices and to strengthen and develop new points of contact for the traveller, such as hotel receptionists, guides, attraction staff and others, who can act as ambassadors for the destination and inspire travellers to make sustainable choices during their visit.

However, Wonderful Copenhagen does not only aspire to impact visitors while they are at the destination with Tourism for Good, but also to inspire them to bring back ideas and thoughts to their home communities. The DMO plans to realise this by exposing guests to the many sustainable solutions you find in Copenhagen, such as the bike culture, innovative city planning, clean tap water for everyone to drink and the famous Danish welfare model, which boasts a social safety net and attractive possibilities for parental leave.

International recognition

Tourism for Good has already been welcomed by several international organisations including the UN’s tourism organisation, UNTWO.

"I commend Wonderful Copenhagen for its new strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development 2030, which has strong links to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This strategy is designed to foster sustainability at local level, where both visitors and hosts can enjoy exploring, living and learning from each other. This is also one of the core objectives of UNWTO’s INSTO network. Through its strategic commitment to a holistic approach for destination sustainability, Copenhagen will contribute to realizing the potential of the Danish tourism sector as an agent of change," says the Secretary-General of UNTWO, Zurab Pololikashvili.

Already before the strategy was launched it received praise at the recent Global Destination Sustainability Index awards, where Copenhagen won the Innovation Award for this new strategy.

"I would like to congratulate Wonderful Copenhagen on winning the 2018 Global Destination Sustainability Index Innovation Award! Their 'Tourism for Good' project seizes on a hot topic in the tourism industry - environmental, social and economic sustainability - and seeks to tackle it from a different perspective. The initiative marks a very positive approach to changing negative feelings surrounding the tourism industry and encouraging local communities to recognise the benefits of a thriving tourism scene," says ICCA President James Rees and continue:

"Looking at tourism as a part of the solution for a sustainable future and not as part of the problem, as Copenhagen does with “Tourism for Good”, is also crucial to business events; this could be a very good model for the future of meetings. The scope and ambition of Copenhagen’s strategy is very exciting, and I look forward to witnessing the long-term results."

Becoming part of the solution

Copenhagen already has a strong green profile internationally, which was recently highlighted in the Global Destination Sustainability Index, where the Danish capital now ranks second.

"With our new strategy for sustainable tourism, we are taking our ambitions to the next level. We want to lead by example, as a DMO and Convention Bureau as well as a destination in general. We aim to make visitors a part of the solution towards a local sustainable transition and have our visitors leave Copenhagen with new inspiration regarding sustainability," says Kit Lykketoft, Director of Convention at Wonderful Copenhagen.

With this strategy Wonderful Copenhagen set out to make tourism an agent of positive change and a driver towards sustainable transition. This will not least be achieved by broadening travel patterns in both time and space to avoid overtourism. By inspiring tourists to make more sustainable choices both during their visit and as they return to their homes and also by leaning through networks, partnerships and data collection.

Tourism for Good, however doesn’t only focus on the visitors and the destination. This is also a strategy for Wonderful Copenhagen to be leading by example as a responsible DMO. This will be realised both through the work Wonderful Copenhagen does with the destination, but also very much by how the DMO conduct its own business. By setting annual environmental targets, by measuring and reducing food waste and by considering sustainability in all phases of Wonderful Copenhagen’s own events.

Read the strategy, summary, reactions and impact.

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