As tourist numbers keep growing around the globe, tourism is seen as a problem since it poses a challenge to the planet’s sustainability. The city of Copenhagen has chosen to see tourism not as part of the problem but as part of the solution. Wonderful Copenhagen, the city’s official DMO, has, therefore, taken it upon itself to present a way towards responsible tourism by launching recently an ambitious strategy called ‘Tourism for Good’. The strategy views sustainability from an environmental, social and economic perspective while contributing to 8 out of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Wonderful Copenhagen’s ambition for 2030 is that tourism in the city and its surrounding areas positively impacts local and global sustainable development. This progressive strategy is aiming to do just that through four different focus areas. Broadening tourism to areas outside the city centre’s boundaries and, hence, offering tourists a much wider choice of activities and richer experiences is the first concern of the strategy. A second one will be to guide tourists towards responsible consumption and behaviour by promoting sustainable products and ways of transportation. Thirdly, as part of the strategy, partnerships are to be formed in order for information and measurements to get collected so that increased knowledge on sustainability is acquired and passed along. Finally, Wonderful Copenhagen has chosen to lead by example, taking the greatest possible sustainability considerations when it comes to its own operations.
‘Tourism for Good’ could not go unnoticed in the international scene. Secretary-General of UNTWO, Zurab Pololikashvili, praised the initiative when talking to Copenhagen’s Convention Bureau: “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.” Furthermore, the strategy received praise at the recent ICCA awards where Copenhagen won the Innovation Award. “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,” said ICCA President James Rees.
Director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative, Megan Epler Wood, has worked in depth with sustainability in tourism and the effects of over-tourism and describes the strategy as “ahead of its time.” “The city has a grand plan that seeks to boldly expand tourism without harming their city’s culture or environment. Their effort will be facilitated through continuous consultation with locals and measurements of impacts via third party organizations. They seek to leapfrog over the problems of overtourism by emphasizing that a destination can and must be designed for visitors and locals alike.”