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Annex 2. Country report Denmark

1. Domestic tourism in Denmark

1.1 Importance of domestic tourism

Share of domestic tourism measured in share of consumption

Domestic tourism makes up a considerable share of tourism consumption, as its share has increased from 2019 to 2021. The total tourism consumption in Denmark was DKK 139.2 billion in 2019, with its domestic share totalling 56 per cent. In 2020, the total tourism consumption in Denmark was DKK 103.7 billion
Fonnesbech-Sandberg & Runge,. 2022.
. Domestic tourism consumption made up 74 per cent of the total tourism consumption in Denmark in 2020
. According to the preliminary calculations based on overnight stays, domestic tourism will make up 75 per cent of the total tourism consumption in Denmark in 2021

Share of domestic tourism measured in share of income

The tourism industry is an important part of the Danish economy; in 2019, tourism accounted for DKK 139.1 billion (4.2%) of the GDP
. Domestic tourism accounted for DKK 78.9 billion during the same year. Between 2019 and 2020, the total added value of tourism decreased from DDK 86.1 billion to DDK 54.4 billion. In 2020, the tourism added value was 1.6 per cent of the total added value in Denmark, which can be seen as the tourism sector’s direct share of the GDP

Share of domestic tourism measured in share of overnights

An increase has been observed in the share of domestic overnight stays in Denmark from 2019 to 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis and loss of inbound tourism. Initially 48 per cent in 2019, the share of domestic overnight stays subsequently increased to 64 per cent in 2020 and 67 per cent in 2021
StatBank Denmark, 2022.
. Fewer Danes spent their holiday in Denmark in 2019 than in 2020. As reflected in the total holiday trips for 2020, not the number of overnight stays, every other Dane holidayed in Denmark. In other terms, 50 per cent of Danes who went on an overnight holiday in 2020 had one or more overnight stays in Denmark
Römer Rassing, & Mölgaard Hansen, 2021.
. However, these statistics were higher in 2018 and 2019. A notable uptick was seen in 2021, as 56 per cent of Danes who went on an overnight holiday had one or more overnight stays in Denmark
Römer Rassing, & Mölgaard Hansen, 2022.

Regional differences in the importance of domestic tourism

Tourism is concentrated in a relatively small number of municipalities in Denmark. In 2020, the ten largest tourism municipalities made up 41 per cent of the total tourism consumption in the country. In 2019, the number was 48 per cent.
Fonnesbech-Sandberg & Runge, 2022.
As the municipal overnight stays data is not available through Statbank, we can only show the differences on a regional level. Through the regional data, we can observe unequal distribution in the share of regional domestic overnight stays, as there is a considerable difference between the largest number and the second largest number. As shown in the regional data, Region Syddanmark had the highest number of domestic overnight stays in 2019, 2020, and 2021; conversely, Region Sjaelland had the lowest number of domestic overnight stays for these three years
StatBank Denmark, 2022.
. The interviewee gives us further insights, highlighting that the coastal areas of Denmark had many domestic tourists according to the overnight stays data.
There is evidence that remote rural areas in some Danish regions became popular summer destinations for domestic tourists in 2020 and 2021[11]. All regions in Denmark (except the Capital region) experienced an increase in domestic visitors in 2021 compared to 2019. Looking at the tourism consumption growth, however, only 19 out of 98 Danish municipalities experienced a growth in tourism consumption in 2020 compared to 2019. The 19 municipalities that experienced growth are characterised by having a higher amount of domestic tourism than other municipalities
Fonnesbech-Sandberg & Runge, 2022.

Significance of same-day visitors in the country

There is no data available through StatBank concerning same-day visitors, but the data is described in the report Turismens Ökonomiske Betydning. Same-day trips corresponded to an average of 8.6 trips per Dane per year in 2019 and 2020. VisitDenmark’s calculation of Danish same-day tourism includes only same-day trips outside the tourist’s municipality of residence. However, it has been decided that citizens from Frederiksberg going to the municipality of Copenhagen are not tourists and vice versa. Furthermore, same-day visits are defined as a minimum of three hours, including transport and with a minimum of a one-hour stay at the destination. In 2020, domestic same-day trips for leisure generated consumption of DKK 15.3 billion, which constitutes 20 per cent of the total domestic tourism consumption in Denmark. Business-related domestic same-day visits yielded consumption of DKK 12.9 billion, 17 per cent of the total domestic tourism consumption. From 2019 to 2020, the consumption of all inbound and domestic same-day visitors on leisure trips decreased by 20 per cent and consumption of same-day visitors on nusiness trips decreased by 12 per cent. However, there is no data available on how much this was due to the decrease in inbound same-day visitors and how much it was due to the decrease in domestic same-day visitors.
Fonnesbech-Sandberg & Runge, 2022.

Changes in the importance and share of domestic tourism during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted six years of annual growth in the Danish tourism industry. On the other hand, all regions in Denmark, except the Capital region, experienced an increase in the number of domestic tourists in 2020 compared to 2019. This can be observed when looking at the relative change in domestic tourist overnight stays at tourist accommodations from January 2020 to August 2021 compared to the same months in 2019.
Denmark closed its border around mid-March 2020, and applied restrictions to international tourists from March 2020 until the end of 2021. During this period, restrictions varied from screening arrivals, quarantine for some or all regions, banning arrivals from some regions, a ban on all regions, to a total border closure. Even if there are no longer any general restrictions applying in Denmark, in time of the writing in autumn 2022 individuals onboard aeroplanes may still be met with a requirement to show their COVID-19 certificate. Furthermore, when visiting homes for the elderly, social institutions and hospitals, individuals may be met with a requirement to wear face masks. Notably, Danish businesses and private cultural institutions are allowed to enforce their own requirements regarding face masks, shields, COVID-19 certificates, and other measures to mitigate infection.

1.2 Domestic tourist preferences in Denmark

As shown in the tables below, tourism consumption was higher in 2019 than in 2020. In terms of tourism-specific products in Table 1 and Table 2, we can observe that domestic tourists in Denmark spent most of their money on transport, followed by restaurants, and culture and entertainment, in 2019 and 2020.
(2019, DKK million)
Same-day visitors
Overnight tourists
Tourism in total
A. Tourism-specific products
30 362
39 876
70 238
A.1 Tourism products
23 309
23 205
46 514
9 179
9 179
4 729
7 036
11 765
13 542
2 803
16 345
Travel service
1 105
2 202
3 307
Culture and entertainment
3 933
1 913
5 846
A.2 Tourism-related products
7 053
16 671
23 724
Food, beverages and tobacco
1 042
7 657
8 699
Petrol and other fuels
5 488
4 473
9 961
4 541
5 064
B. Non-tourism specific products
2 958
5 685
8 643
I total
33 320
45 561
78 880
Table 1. Domestic tourism consumption in 2019. (Source: Turismens Ökonomiske Betydning 2019).
(2020, DKK million)
Same-day visitors
Overnight tourists
Tourism in total
A. Tourism-specific products
25 634
40 867
66 500
A.1 Tourism products
19 750
20 348
40 098
7 534
7 534
4 130
6 951
11 081
11 426
2 071
13 497
Travel service
1 001
1 797
2 798
Culture and entertainment
3 194
1 899
5 093
A.2 Tourism-related products
5 884
20 519
26 403
Food, beverages and tobacco
10 230
11 129
Petrol and other fuels
4 517
4 790
9 307
5 499
5 967
B. Non-tourism specific products
7 658
10 234
I total
28 210
48 525
76 734
Table 2. Domestic tourism consumption in 2020. (Source: Turismens Ökonomiske Betydning 2020).
Even though most Danes are interested in Danish destinations that offer nature, only a small share have sustainable solutions as a travel motive when choosing their destination. Looking at the preferences of domestic tourists, during the holidays in 2020, every other Dane said that relaxation and the opportunity to recharge were important to them when choosing their destination in Denmark. Furthermore, 28 per cent of domestic tourists sought safe and easily accessible destinations. Only a small share of domestic tourists (6%) prioritised green and sustainable solutions as a travel motive. This contrasts with the types of destinations that domestic tourists in Denmark are interested in since nature was a crucial travel motive for the Danes’ choice of their holiday destination in 2020. 61 per cent of Danes chose holiday destinations based on nature, beaches, and coasts. Moreover, one in three Danes saw the possibility to hike and take long walks in nature as an important factor when choosing their destination
Römer Rassing & Mölgaard Hansen, 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener for many Danes in terms of possibilities for domestic tourism, according to the interviewee. COVID-19 has entailed a higher interest in new aspects of Denmark and being a tourist in Denmark. The interviewee explains that there is a possible trend of higher prestige in staying in Denmark and spending holidays at home.

1.3 Future of domestic tourism in Denmark

According to the interviewee, it is predicted that Denmark will achieve an all-time high in the number of domestic overnight stays in 2022, with a significantly higher number compared to the pre-pandemic years. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the following factors may have contributed to the high number of domestic overnight stays in 2022: the SAS strike, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and price shocks on products and services.
As for the future of domestic tourism in Denmark, the interviewee highlights two influential factors. Firstly, the pandemic has been an eye-opener for Danish tourists regarding the potential disadvantages of travelling abroad, including the uncertainty of being on holiday in other countries during times of international crises. Consequently, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the attractiveness of travelling domestically and experiencing Denmark.
Secondly, the sustainability aspect may also influence the outlook for domestic tourism. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the trend where people have started to consider the necessity of long-distance travel in correlation to its climate and environmental impact.
According to the interviewee, there is good potential for domestic tourism in Denmark. The pandemic has brought forth many innovative tourism products, making domestic tourism a higher priority for different stakeholders in the tourism industry. For example, Danish Destinations is active in marketing Denmark to domestic tourists. As the Danish national tourism strategy underlines the strategic importance of domestic tourism, it points to the need for more and better domestic tourism products to develop Denmark’s national tourism sector.

2. Main stakeholders and coordination of domestic tourism activities

In Denmark, the Ministry of Industry, Business, and Financial Affairs oversee the tourism industry. The Ministry collaborates with several other ministries in issues concerning the tourism sector, namely the Ministry of Environment and Food, the Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Culture.
The multi-level governance system for coordinating domestic tourism activities in Denmark can be viewed as a hierarchy. On top is the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, along with the Danish National Tourism Forum and the Danish Tourism Board. The latter can be best understood as different task force groups that, e.g., are in charge of developing the national tourism strategy. Below the top level are four national bodies – three development organisations and one marketing organisation. These are The Danish Coastal and Nature Tourism Organisation, the Danish City Tourism Organisation, Meet Denmark, and Visit Denmark. At the local level, the coordination is centralised through Danish Destinations.
According to the interviewee, Denmark primarily focused on inbound tourism prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The interviewee goes as far as to state that the domestic tourism market was neglected before the pandemic. During the pandemic, greater interest was given to domestic tourism, as the domestic tourism market grew bigger. In 2020, Visit Denmark and Danish Destinations had a shared responsibility for domestic tourism marketing. In 2021, Danish Destinations took over most of the responsibility for domestic tourism marketing. In Denmark’s strategy for tourism, it becomes evident that domestic tourism is prioritised going ahead, as the domestic market is specifically mentioned as an important market
Erhvervsministeriet, 2022.
When looking at funding, the two main public funding bodies are the government and the Danish Board of Business Development. Via the Danish Board of Business Development, destinations can apply for public funding in support of development activities.

3. Best practices

This chapter presents two best practice case examples of efforts aimed at recovering and strengthening the Danish tourism industry, including the promotion of domestic tourism, namely the Kickstart Danish Tourism 2020 project (case 1) and a summer package initiative (case 2).

3.1 Case 1: Kickstart Danish Tourism 2020 project

The Kickstart project was a national effort that was active from May 2020 until January 2022. The project was time-limited, but the director of Danish Coastal and Nature Tourism has emphasised that the project also focuses on the post-pandemic period as it strengthens the long-term competitiveness of the tourism industry
Danmarks Erhvervsfremmebestyrelse, 2020.
. The project can therefore be seen as an approach to solving challenges during COVID-19, as well as a long-term focus on strengthening companies; both in terms of resilience during a possible future crisis, but also in terms of competitiveness in the market.
The effort aimed to help kickstart revenue in the Danish tourism industry, and at the same time, to prepare the industry for the new needs of tourists in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The needs of tourists changed during the pandemic, as domestic tourists tend to have different preferences than international tourists. Therefore, businesses needed to reshape their offers to prepare for the tourists’ new needs. This was done by, e.g., developing attractive businesses and products for domestic tourists. The project utilised data that can help companies and tourist organisations to better understand domestic travel- and behaviour patterns, such as holiday preferences, trends, visitor spending, and visitor behaviour. In this instance, knowledge was generated concerning (i) festivals and events during and after the pandemic, (ii) if near-cation would be a one-off phenomenon or the way forward, and (iii) innovation on food scenes during and after corona.
The target group was tourism-linked businesses and destinations around the country. The beneficiaries were domestic tourists.
Regarding the project’s background, the Danish Board of Business Development, which focuses on all types of tourism, decided that the secretariat of the Danish Board of Business Development should initiate dialogue with the tourism industry about how the tourism funds should be implemented in 2020. The dialogue aimed to ensure that the earmarked funds for tourism in 2020 considered the new situation caused by the pandemic, and that they met the needs of the tourism industry as relevant and as quickly as possible.
The secretariat of the Danish Board of Business Development met with key stakeholders in the tourism industry, such as Visit Denmark, the national tourism development organisations (i.e., The Danish Coastal and Nature Tourism Organisation, the Danish City Tourism Organisation and Meet Denmark), local DMOs, Local Government Denmark, and relevant trade and industry associations. In summary, the main messages from these actors were:
  • The tourism industry has been hit hard, and it will take time to get the industry back on its feet. Especially small tourism companies experience great risk.
  • Speed ​​is essential, which is why there is a desire for a fast process to get the funds to work, preferably before the summer holidays of 2020.
  • The Danish domestic market is the only market for the tourism industry in the short term. There is a desire from all actors for one joint national marketing project with a focus on holidaying in Denmark.
  • It is difficult to find co-financing from private actors, so it is proposed to raise the subsidy rate for marketing from 25 per cent to 50 per cent or higher.
  • The Danish Board of Business Development must continue to focus on destination development to ensure new tourism products and services that benefit companies, including supporting the consolidation of DMOs.
The Danish Board of Business Development decided to support two actions in response to the above points, namely a common marketing campaign across the 19 DMOs and Visit Denmark, and the Kickstart project that is in focus here.

3.1.1 Activities

The Kickstart project was a nationwide project, using decentralised business promotion funds to kickstart and stimulate Danish tourism in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on managing the shift in visitor behaviour and the need for extra safety and security. The project included the following 11 initiatives with the common aim of helping tourism operators to kickstart tourism consumption in coastal and nature tourism, city tourism, and business and meeting tourism in Denmark:
  • Knowledge for Kickstart.
  • Reframe and more-sales on the West Coast.
  • Back to Business – back on track.
  • Upgrading and training of the tourism profession (e-learning).
  • Digital solutions and tourist information initiatives.
  • Tourist Stay Safe.
  • Outdoor and nature-based experience development.
  • Kickstart of Danish business and meeting tourism.
  • Kickstart cultural tourism.
  • Kickstart innovations.
  • World-class digital infrastructure.
All of the planned initiatives were implemented according to the interviewee. In terms of results, the project produced and delivered new knowledge on tools for managing travel and behaviour patterns, tools and concepts for business development and product adaptation, market testing of new concepts and products, as well as marketing efforts.
According to the project report, the project has contributed to effects, such as growth in the number of domestic overnight stays, growth in tourism turnover, and the creation and retention of jobs. Outside the project period, growth in international overnight stays is also expected.

3.1.2 Organisation and stakeholders

Visit Aarhus was the project owner and provided the overall project management. The project partners were Danish Destinations, Danish Coastal and Nature Tourism, Danish Metropolitan Tourism, and Meet Denmark. Each partner was represented in the project steering committee. In addition, there were several collaborative partners, including Visit Denmark, the country’s business houses, knowledge institutions, and interest organisations.

3.1.3 Funding

The project was co-financed by the decentralised business promotion funds (DEM). A total of DKK 15 million was allocated from the DEM. The total project funding amounted to approximately DKK 33 million. The rest of the funds were announced as a part of the ordinary application round on the yearly fund for local tourism development projects.

3.1.4 Lessons learned

Although an external evaluation of the Kickstart project is not planned, there is a final report
Danmarks Erhvervsfremmebestyrelse, 2021
. The project can be regarded as a success due to its impact on strengthening cooperation between participating destinations
. The project's final report emphasises that the project has contributed to the growth of domestic overnight stays, growth in tourism turnover, and the creation and retention of jobs. After the project period, the project group also expects a growth in inbound overnight stays as well
The main takeaways and lessons learned from the projects were:
  • Even though it was expected that the COVID-19 pandemic would prove to be a challenge, it proved more difficult to navigate than expected. Not only did the pandemic create unpredictability with restrictions being enforced and lifted with short notice, but it also made it more difficult to plan activities. However, the pandemic also strengthened project participants' abilities in navigating unfamiliar situations, their digital skills, and their competence in digital transformation.
  • Tight and focused project management in cases where several destinations were involved was essential for the successful completion of activities within the 11 initiatives.
  • Knowledge-sharing has been crucial in such a geographically wide and large project as the Kickstart project. The ongoing sharing of knowledge has been important to ensure that the experiences and results from activities could be used as lessons learned in the planning and implementation of new activities.
  • New values and collaborations in digital platforms were a takeaway. Through this project, digital opportunities in the form of hybrid meetings, e.g., have become a new competitive parameter.
  • A takeaway regarding Kickstart outdoor is that outdoor activities have been a means of learning. The ambition of this activity has been to equip small companies to exploit their development potential within the outdoor area. Since smaller companies have not had the opportunity to make time for new thinking, the size of companies has been a factor in whether COVID-19 has become a catalyst for innovation or not. The project has shown that there is potential in combining outdoor tourism with other business areas, and thereby targeting new domestic target groups.
  • A lesson learned from the initiative “tourist stay safe” was the new reality of guests during and after the pandemic. The Director of Visit Nordsjælland highlights that they are navigating a new reality for guests, where safety and hygiene are strong competitive parameters. In this context, new digital aids, and new planning at hotels have been created, so that, e.g., cleaning is undertaken at times when the guests are not present.
Beyond its intital scope, the next phase of the Kickstart project has started in 2022 with four initiatives. The initiatives include (i) Kickstart Danish business and meeting tourism 2.0, (ii) Outdoor- and nature-based experience development 2.0, (iii) Reframe and additional sales on the West coast 2.0, and (iv) Knowledge on time 2.0.

3.2 Case 2: Summer package

The summer package project was initiated by the government and a large majority of the parties in the Danish Folketing. It was launched nationally in the summer of 2020 as a recovery package for different areas of culture. The package aimed to boost the Danish economy after the pandemic as part of a larger effort to phase out the COVID-19 bailout packages and replace them with comprehensive recovery packages. The aim was reached by nudging domestic tourism consumption through, e.g., reduced prices for museums and free ferry rides.
The target group for the project was cultural institutions, transport organisations, sports associations, and more. The beneficiaries of the project were domestic tourists. As the aim was to boost the Danish economy, the project had mainly a short-term approach where the initiatives were meant to directly affect, e.g., visitors to the islands.
The project used tools, such as subsidisation, infrastructure development, and expanding the opening hours of centres to reach their aim.

3.2.1 Activities

The summer package practice included multiple initiatives that were divided into three main categories: (i) Summer in the countryside and on the islands, (ii) Culture experiences in the Danish summer, and (iii) Summer activities for elderly and vulnerable groups. The following activities were planned and implemented within (i) Summer in the countryside and on the islands:
  • Free domestic ferries in July for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Subsidy for price reduction on ferries to small islands, as well as Fanø, Læsø, Ærø, and Samsø in August and September.
  • Reduced ticket prices on the Ystad-Rønne ferry service in August and September.
  • Travel pass – 8 days of free travel ticket with public transport. 50,000 tickets are offered.
  • EUR 1 million Orange tickets across Storebælt during the school summer holidays.
  • Temporary increase in the basic deduction for the rental of holiday homes.
  • Strengthened efforts to restart tourism in the Capital via Wonderful Copenhagen.
  • Strengthened efforts to restart tourism in coastal and nature tourism via Danish Coastal and Nature Tourism.
  • Boosting the Island Pass and island tourism.
  • Food cultural summer events and experiences across the country.
  • Better conditions for bike tourism in Denmark.

The following activities were planned and implemented within (ii) Culture experiences during the Danish summer:
  • More association and sports experiences for the Danes.
  • Expansion of pool for local sports and scout associations.
  • Discount on tickets for cultural experiences.
  • Activity pool for cultural activities.

The following activities were planned and implemented within (iii) Summer activities for elderly and vulnerable groups:
  • Free local activities for older people over 65.
  • Day trips for nursing home residents.
  • Day trips for residents of social psychiatric residential facilities.
  • Free disabled transport during the summer holidays.

3.2.2 Organisation and stakeholders

The practice and the planned activities were decided on by the government, as well as the parties not in government
The parties not in government: Venstre, Radikale Venstre, Socialistisk Folkeparti, Enhedslisten, Det Konservative Folkeparti and Alternativet
. The practice was carried out through a collaboration between the Ministry for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens, according to the interviewee. The interviewee continues explaining that the coordination was done by the Ministry for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, but the different activities were conducted by each party. This means that, e.g., activities that concerned transport was conducted by the Ministry of Transport. There wasn’t strong coordination between the activities according to the interviewee. This was mainly because of the urgency to start implementing the activities, as the package was finalised in late June 2020.  

3.2.3 Funding

The funding allocations were decided on by the government, as well as the parties not in government
Danmarks Erhvervsfremmebestyrelse, 2020.
. The government’s total summer package contains initiatives totalling DKK 700 million. Approximately 39 per cent of the funds were allocated toward the activities within Summer in the countryside and on the islands. Approximately 46 per cent of the funds were allocated toward activities within Culture experiences during the Danish summer. Approximately 15 per cent of the funds were allocated toward activities within Summer activities for elderly and vulnerable groups.

3.2.4 Lessons learned

An external evaluation of the summer package has not yet been conducted, but the project can still, in some respects, be regarded as a success due to its impact on the survival of businesses, sustainable active initiatives and higher-than-intended results.
The first summer package was planned and implemented during the summer of 2020. In the fall, there was a general sense that the lockdowns would not come back, but in December 2020, the new lockdowns were a fact. This meant that a new summer package was decided upon. The second summer package was based on the success of the first one. The major difference was that the second package included larger funds, more areas of priority, and a broader target group.
The main takeaway regarding developing domestic tourism markets was that more Danes took part in the initiative’s outputs than what was initially expected. There was a steep increase in domestic museum visits and domestic small island travelling. The Minister for Social Affairs and Senior Citizens highlights that she is pleased with the results, as so many domestic tourists have been out and experienced the many small and larger islands in Denmark. She emphasises that that is exactly what the government wanted with the Summer Package. Many Danes have been able to experience Denmark in new ways, while the Summer Package also supported hotels and restaurants in the smaller island communities.
Transportministeriet, 2020.
As for the long-term effects, sectors that would have been shut down have survived, and they are at higher levels today than in 2019. Another takeaway is the long-term effects of the summer packages, as well as certain activities still being implemented outside of the Summer Package, such as the transport summer tickets.