Programme plans to lure tourists back

Recovering millions in annual loses to the tourist industry is the goal of a pilot programme being kick-started this August

The regional tourist trade across Denmark has ambitions of recovering the millions of lost revenue from drops in overnight stays over the last ten years.

The lost millions are to be recouped by developing year-round destinations and marketing Denmark outside of summer's high-tourist season, focussing on mature tourists from Germany and the Netherlands.

Seven locations across the country have been chosen to implement the first phase of a tourist expansion programme.

'The goal is to get back what we have lost in recent years so we re-establish the tourism business,' said Lars Erik Jønsson, development director of visitdenmark.dk, an online tourism and travel guide, to weekly newspaper ErhvervsBladet. 'We need to secure DKK 5 million a year in overnight stays and it doesn't only have to be by German tourists, with whom we have lost ground for a number of years.'

Jønsson said the economic effects of bolstering year-round tourism would take at least two years to make a noticeable impact, but would in the process create new 3000 new jobs in outlying regions of the country, especially along the coast.

The shoulder-seasons in the spring and fall, in particular, are critical to developing an extended season. Tourism operators can still offer attractive packages during those periods in everything from nature, culture and golf oriented deals to pleasure fishing and gastronomy.

On the so-called Gold Coast, between Hirtshals and Skagen on the north western coast of Jutland, the quiet burg of Tversted can offer the same amenities of its more visited neighbours. Tversted put in the best bid to become one of the seven towns in the tourism development programme.

'We lost about 50 percent of our German overnight guests in a ten year period and I would like to recover that and develop our market again, especially for the Germans and the Swedes who have been like a problem child in recent years,' said Lars Enevold Pedersen, tourism director of the new Mid-North region in Jutland.

Aside from Copenhagen, Northern Jutland has the largest tourism-generated turnover at DKK 5.7 billion annually. The area, though, has seen a decline in foreign tourists visiting the area and had to rely on Danes taking domestic vacations.

Pedersen would like to see some of the DKK 35 million that will be doled out in the phase one areas be used to develop tourism groups, especially in areas hard-hit by the closing of other industries, such as meat-packing plants.

On the opposite end of the country at Møn-Marielyst, tourism planners also have high ambitions for turning around the industry.

'There is an interest in expanding the tourism season and year-round tourism to build upon the short season and facilities that are available,' said Glen Polano, tourism director in Møn-Marielyst.

With a tourism turnover of DKK 7.6 billion a year and some 11,300 employees in the industry, growth could give the areas a boost, reported ErhvervsBladet.

While the seven areas are looking heavily at drawing tourists from neighbouring Germany and also the Netherlands, the idea is to draw tourist from a wider net.

The funding for the seven pilot areas comes from a DKK 6.5 million grant from the Danish Ministry of Business and Economic affairs and some DKK 3 million from the Directorate for Food, Fisheries and Agri Business.

Conferences to define and develop the projects in the seven locations take place at Hotel Legoland in Billund, in Jutland, and Holmegaard Glassworks in southern Zealand at the end of August.

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