Winter visitors bring boost for Denmark’s tourism industry

The number of overnight stays by tourists in Denmark has increased by 50 percent during the winter season compared to 2010, according to new data from Statistics Denmark.

Winter visitors bring boost for Denmark’s tourism industry
Tourists in Copenhagen in the winter of 2012. File photo: Torkil Adsersen/Scanpix 2012

Winter is here – and that’s a good thing, if you ask the Danish tourism industry.

New data from Statistics Denmark shows that the number of overnight stays increased by 50 percent in the winter season in 2018 compared to 2010, writes

“The new and vast range of experiences – including cultural experiences – means that both Danish and international tourists come flocking, including outside the traditional high season,” Sune K. Jensen, head of tourism and experience economy at the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI), said.

Skallerup Seaside Resort in northern Jutland is one example of a resort which has successfully attracted tourists with sea infusions and special off-peak discounts.

The concept ‘365 Great Days’, guaranteeing guests the same experiences and activities all year round, has been introduced by the resort.

In addition, Skallerup Seaside Resort, which has 282 holiday cottages and apartments, has winter-specific offers for tourists who stop by the North Sea coast during the winter season.

“In the winter season 2018-19, we’ve had great success with our new sea infusions. It’s a combination of winter swimming and sauna infusions in our mobile sauna, which is especially popular with our guests during the colder months,” CEO Jørgen Høll said.

The resort has also put together special offers for regular guests, such as two-for-one cottage rentals in selected periods.

“This has resulted in even more guests during the winter season. In fact, we hardly have a low season anymore. To put it humbly, we’ve got a rather good occupancy rate,” Høll said.

The new tourism data also shows an increase the number of overnight stays during the high season – albeit by a lower factor of 13 percent, Jensen noted.

“Denmark is generally becoming a year-round destination. This is the also the case with attractions such as Tivoli Gardens, which offers activities for guests all year round,” he said.

Jensen said that that Copenhagen had more or less eliminated its low season, and that the trend could be extended to other parts of Denmark.

“If this growth continues, we’ll see tourism as a whole-year business in the rest of the country as well – naturally with a high season during the summer months, but without a real low season in winter,” he said.

READ ALSO: International tourists flock to Copenhagen's Tivoli for Christmas hygge

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Denmark’s ‘freetown’ Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on

A refuge for anarchists, hippies and artists, Denmark's 'freetown' Christiania turns 50 on Sunday, and though it hasn't completely avoided the encroachment of modernity and capitalism, its free-wheeling soul remains intact.

Denmark's 'freetown' Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on
Christiania, one of Copenhagen's major tourist attractions, celebrates its 50th anniversary on Sunday. JENS NOERGAARD LARSEN / SCANPIX / AFP

Nestled in the heart of Copenhagen, Christiania is seen by some as a progressive social experiment, while others simply see it as a den of drugs.

On September 26th, 1971, a band of guitar-laden hippies transformed an abandoned army barracks in central Copenhagen into their home. They raised their “freedom flag” and named their new home “Christiania, Freetown” after the part of the city where it is located.

They wanted to establish an alternative society, guided by the principles of peace and love, where decisions were made collectively and laws were not enforced.

Soft drugs were freely available, and repurposing, salvaging and sharing was favoured over buying new.

It was a community “that belonged to everybody and to no one”, said Ole Lykke, who moved into the 34-hectare (84-acre) enclave in the 1970s.

These principles remain well-rooted today, but the area has changed in many ways: tourists weave through its cobblestone roads, and the once-reviled market economy is in full swing.

Perhaps most importantly, it is no longer a squat. Residents became legal landowners when they bought some of the land from the Danish state in 2012.

Now it is home to some 900 people, many artists and activists, along with restaurants, cafes and shops, popular among the half a million tourists that visit annually.

“The site is more ‘normal’,” says a smiling Lykke, a slender 75-year-old with ruffled silver hair, who passionately promotes Christiania, its independence and thriving cultural scene.

Legislation has been enforced since 2013 — though a tongue-in-cheek sign above the exit points out that those leaving the area will be entering the European Union.

‘Embrace change’
It is Christiania’s ability to adapt with the times that has allowed it to survive, says Helen Jarvis, a University of Newcastle professor of social geography engagement.

“Christiania is unique,” says Jarvis, who lived in Christiania in 2010.

“(It) endures because it continues to evolve and embrace change”.

Some of those changes would have been unthinkable at the start.

Residents secured a bank loan for several million euros to be able to buy the land, and now Christiania is run independently through a foundation.

They also now pay wages to the around 40 people employed by Christiania, including trash collectors and daycare workers.

“Money is now very important,” admits Lykke, who is an archivist and is currently exhibiting 100 posters chronicling Christiania’s history at a Copenhagen museum.

But it hasn’t forgotten its roots.

“Socially and culturally, Christiania hasn’t changed very much,” he says, noting that the community’s needs still come first.

‘Judged a little’
Christiania has remained a cultural hub — before the pandemic almost two dozen concerts were held every week and its theatres were packed.

But it is still beset by its reputations as a drugs hub.

Though parts of Christiania are tranquil, lush and green with few buildings, others are bustling, with a post office, mini-market, healthcare centre, and Pusher Street, the notorious drug market.

Lykke says it’s a side of Christiania most could do without.

“Most of us would like to get rid of it. But as long as (marijuana use) is prohibited, as long as Denmark doesn’t want to decriminalise or legalise, we will have this problem,” says Lykke.

While still officially illegal, soft drugs like marijuana and hash are tolerated — though not in excess.

Since early 2020, Copenhagen police have seized more than one tonne of cannabis and more than a million euros.

“Sometimes I don’t tell people that I live here because you get judged a little bit. Like, ‘Oh, you must be into marijuana and you must be a smoker’,” says Anemone, a 34-year-old photographer.

For others, Christiania’s relaxed nature is part of the appeal.

“It’s different from what I know, I really want to see it,” laughs Mirka, a Czech teacher who’s come to have a look around.