Comeback Copenhagen 2023

Comeback Copenhagen

Photo: Terry Mclaughlin

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a historical crisis of demand in tourism, which calls for new initiatives, closer cooperation, continuous coordination and strategic unity among the tourism actors in Copenhagen.

In cooperation with the tourism industry and cultural venues in greater Copenhagen region, the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the City of Copenhagen and Wonderful Copenhagen have thus drawn up a joint 2021 tourism recovery plan: Comeback Copenhagen.

Comeback Copenhagen aims to help Copenhagen maintain its international market position in a future characterised by growing international competition and altered travel patterns. The activities outlined in the plan also aim to bring tourists back to Copenhagen as soon as possible and to prepare the tourism industry for international competition when tourism picks up again. Finally, the plan aims to promote a sustainable tourism recovery that ensures economic growth, community support and a smaller environmental and climate footprint.

Four themes

Comeback Copenhagen is focused on four themes that are key for tourism recovery in Copenhagen and for developing the greater Copenhagen region as a destination:

1. Bringing tourists and tourism revenue back to Copenhagen

The tourism industry in Copenhagen is facing an unprecedented struggle for survival. Covid-19 has precipitated the most severe crisis in demand in the sector for decades, with drastic reductions in bed-nights, revenue and employment. The crisis strikes particularly hard because many tourism actors recently invested in new products and significant expansions of capacity. That makes it an urgent concern to attract more visitors to Copenhagen as soon as possible.

2. Adjusting to a new market situation

The global pandemic is likely to lead to significant changes in what tourists demand. The tourism industry needs to adjust accordingly in order to remain a strong player in the new competitive environment. New target groups, the Danish domestic market and nearby markets will be key in this realignment, just as safety, physical distancing and hygiene will be crucial aspects of tourism experiences. That will require a rethinking of destination and product development, among other aspects.

3. Tourism that benefits Copenhagen and Copenhageners

Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated just how important tourists are to Copenhagen. Tourists contribute to the customer base for retail, restaurants, cultural venues and other activities. Community support is a key condition for the continued growth of tourism, and tourism recovery in Copenhagen should happen in a way that avoids tension between tourists and locals in popular sites. Developing tourism in a way that benefits local residents, tourists and the city as a whole calls for spreading tourists out and focusing on the positive effects of tourism.

4. Sustainable tourism behaviour as a key competitive factor

Climate challenges and global climate awareness mean that tourists increasingly demand and expect sustainable options across destinations. The ability of Copenhagen and the tourism sector to meet this challenge and expectation has the potential to become a key global competitive factor over the coming years. That has implications for the development of destinations and tourism services and requires a dialogue with the individual tourist to influence their behaviour.

Comeback Copenhagen addresses these four themes through twelve ambitious initiatives that make up the core of the common recovery plan for tourism in Copenhagen.

12 initiatives

Initiative 1 – An extraordinary common effort to market Copenhagen as a destination

Staging an extraordinary marketing effort in 2021 aims to help make Copenhagen a more attractive destination for domestic and international tourists, as markets reopen. This marketing effort targets both Danish and international markets and supports the general recovery plan across leisure, business and cruise tourism. The extraordinary marketing effort in 2021 takes place within the framework of a new common strategy for marketing Copenhagen that was developed in a partnership between, on the one hand, the destination organisation for the Capital Region, Wonderful Copenhagen, and, on the other, Denmark’s national tourism organisation, VisitDenmark.

Initiative 2 Copenhagen Travel Lab to support the retargeting of the tourism industry

Improving the agility of tourism companies by establishing a new unit as part of Wonderful Copenhagen: the Copenhagen Travel Lab. By promoting tourism innovation and adaptations to a changing market, the Lab aims to generate new solutions for inspiration and implementation across the tourism sector as well as new business models to improve the industry’s competitive edge in the future.

Initiative 3 Increased business from large conferences and congresses

Adapting and improving Copenhagen’s current value propositions and business model within congress tourism and generating new business from congresses for the meetings industry in order to make up for the drop in the large of large congresses.

Initiative 4 Copenhagen as a safe destination

Making it easier for tourists to identify Covid-safe experiences in Copenhagen and ensure that Copenhagen has the means to spread tourists throughout the city. It is also important to ensure that Copenhagen is able to meet the demand for outdoor experiences.

Initiative 5 Copenhagen as a more attractive cultural destination

Aiding Copenhagen’s cultural actors in rethinking their programmes to appeal to new target groups and matching the altered behaviour patterns that Covid-19 has led to, with a focus on generating revenue for Copenhagen's cultural venues. In the longer term, a coordinated and joint effort will aim to improve Copenhagen’s international competitive position based on common insights and a shared focus on the city’s cultural venues, events and tourism sector.

Initiative 6 Connected Rails – attracting more train passengers to Copenhagen

Investigating the potential for attracting more tourists who arrive by train with a view to encouraging more travellers to choose rail as their mode of transport.

Initiative 7 Promoting sustainable choices by travellers and the industry

Staging a coordinated effort across the tourism industry to create and promote sustainable products and services based on product development, certification and communication. This effort also involves guiding tourists to sustainable alternatives in order to reduce the individual visitor’s climate footprint at the destination. The initiative aims to attract travellers, inspire them to make green choices with regard to experiences and transportation.

Initiative 8 Closer interaction between urban, coastal, culture and nature tourism in the Greater Copenhagen region

Following up on the strategic framework for the development of urban, coastal, culture and nature tourism in the Greater Copenhagen Region that is currently under development in extension of existing development plans for tourism on Denmark’s West Coast (2018) and on Zealand and other islands (2020). The strategic framework for the development of urban, coastal, culture and nature tourism in the Greater Copenhagen Region identifies a number of initiatives that have the potential to promote more integrated tourism, such as bicycle tourism, outdoor experiences and the development of thematic and interconnected experiences.

Initiative 9 Developing Danish cruise tourism with a focus on sustainability

Based on preliminary work by Denmark, the Nordic Council of Ministers has adopted the goal of making the Nordic region the world’s most sustainable cruise destination by 2030. The development of Danish cruise tourism continues, with a focus on generating sustainable cruises in line with the efforts that were underway prior to Covid-19 and in extension of the efforts by the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs to develop guidelines for a safe reopening of cruise tourism. This includes a focus on minimising the cruise industry’s air pollution and climate impact. Another key focus area is the effort to spread out cruise ship visits to ensure community support and to position Danish cruise tourism strongly in the future competition, where sustainability is expected to be a key competitive parameter.

Initiative 10 Maximising the impact of events

Strengthening Copenhagen’s position as a globally recognised host nation for events while also achieving the full impact of the events that come to Copenhagen.

Initiative 11 Re-establishing an international route network for Copenhagen Airports

In order to restore flight access, Greater Copenhagen Connected will focus on restarting key routes rather than focusing solely on attracting new ones. In 2021, Greater Copenhagen Connected will focus on re-establishing key airline routes in Europe and invest in re-establishing principal intercontinental routes. The target group of this effort is international tourists who are considering Copenhagen as a holiday destination. The initiative will be implemented through campaigns aiming to attract relevant and high-spending tourists to Copenhagen.

Initiative 12 Coordination forum and 2023 plan for the recovery of Copenhagen tourism

Wonderful Copenhagen, the City of Copenhagen and the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs continue their collaboration with a view to developing a joint plan leading up to 2023 based on the current strategic effort across state, city and destination organisation.

The impact of Covid-19 on tourism in Copenhagen

  • In 2020, the Capital Region of Denmark lost DKK 28 billion DKK (3,77 billion euros) in tourism revenue, a decline of 53 per cent compared with 2019.
  • The decline in revenue corresponds to a loss of nearly 33,000 full-time jobs in the Capital Region of Denmark.
  • In 2020, there were 3.4 million tourist bed-nights in the city of Copenhagen, a decline of 65 per cent compared with 2019.
  • The number of passengers in Copenhagen Airport fell from 30.3 million in 2019 to 7.5 million in 2020, a decline of 75 per cent.
  • All 349 scheduled cruise ship visits in Copenhagen in 2020 were cancelled.
  • Many major events in Copenhagen were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, including Copenhagen Marathon, CPH:DOX and CopenHell.