The Path to Sustainability

How cities, including Copenhagen, are adopting strategies aimed at ensuring a better future.

By Boardroom editors

As global tourism challenges sustainability efforts, cities including Copenhagen are developing strategies aimed at promoting sustainability while also providing visitors with culturally enriching experiences. The Copenhagen Convention Bureau is getting everyone from venues to hotels on board to help build a sustainable future by 2030.

Wonderful Copenhagen’s newly launched Tourism for Good effort is designed to contribute to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We caught up with Kit Lykketoft, director of conventions at the Copenhagen Convention Bureau, to learn more about the strategy and to find out why sustainable tourism is key to the future of business events.

What are some of the largest sustainability challenges cities in Europe are facing?

Kit Lykketoft: For some cities, it is handling visitor pressure in high season; for other regions, it’s attracting tourism revenue for job creation. But the biggest challenge worldwide is how tourism contributes to climate change. With Tourism for Good, we aim to make positive contributions to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Why is a sustainable tourism strategy crucial for the future of business events?

Lykketoft: Having a strategy for sustainable tourism will be crucial for any kind of travel in the future. However, I think it will be particularly important with regard to business events, as we will see more and more organizations setting up sustainability demands for their events and travel procurement, just as we already see many global organizations doing with other parts of their operations.

What are some of the easiest solutions or strategies cities can incorporate?

Lykketoft: If it was easy, it would probably have already been done. The good will is there, but help, inspiration, and strategy are needed in order to get going. However, there are three suggestions for any destination to consider: Include tourism in city planning. If all new hotels and attractions are being built in the same area, you are asking for visitor pressure. Use sustainability certifications as guidelines —there is plenty of good advice to follow. And finally, collect data. You need to know the friction points in your city before you can act upon them.

What are the issues Copenhagen faces and how will this new strategy benefit the tourism sector?

Lykketoft: Copenhagen aims to be the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025, so reducing energy consumption from the tourism sector is important and will also benefit the sector with lower costs. With predictions of 60 percent more tourists in Copenhagen by 2025, we are at risk of visitor pressure and of alienating locals from certain parts of the city. To protect the attractiveness of Copenhagen as a liveable city (and attractive destination), we will work to diversify travel patterns over different seasons, time of day, and a larger geographical area so that sensitive areas will not be too congested.

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