Tourists to get free food, activities if they participate in eco-friendly tasks in Copenhagen

Tourists visiting Copenhagen will be offered free food and activities in exchange for participating in eco-friendly tasks, according to the city’s tourist board. Starting July 15, this pilot eco-friendly program will provide rewards for actions like litter-picking, using public transportation, or biking around the city.

As part of the “CopenPay” initiative, visitors can earn free lunches, coffees, wine, and kayak rentals by engaging in these green activities. The program aims to mitigate the environmental impact of tourism, says Rikke Holm Petersen, the tourist board’s communications chief. “Traveling by plane or car causes pollution. We can encourage more sustainable behavior at the destination,” she explains.

Petersen acknowledges that the eco-friendly tasks initiative is a small step towards a greener future. The project operates on a “trust-based” system, with minimal proof required to claim rewards. Some attractions may ask for a photo of a bike ride or a public transport ticket.

The government isn’t compensating the participating businesses, which include museums, rooftop bars, and kayaking organizations. So far, 24 organizations have joined the pilot. Denmark recorded over 12 million overnight stays last year, and Petersen expects a “small percentage” of visitors to participate in the trial, which ends on August 11.

Othy Jasper, a 25-year-old Londoner visiting Copenhagen for work in August, is mindful of his travel impact. “Air travel can significantly contribute to pollution,” he says. Although he appreciates the initiative, he is doubtful he would collect litter for a reward, calling it “a bit of an effort.”

If successful, the scheme will continue throughout the year. “If visitors leave with a greener mindset as their souvenir, that would be amazing,” Petersen says.

The “CopenPay” scheme represents a broader effort by Copenhagen to lead in sustainable tourism. The city’s tourist board hopes that the initiative will inspire similar programs in other cities. By embedding sustainability into the travel experience, they aim to make a lasting impact on tourists’ behaviors and attitudes towards the environment.

“We want to be pioneers in responsible tourism,” Petersen adds. “Our goal is to create a model that can be replicated worldwide, encouraging tourists everywhere to think about their environmental footprint.”

Copenhagen’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond this trial. The city has long been known for its green initiatives, such as extensive cycling infrastructure and renewable energy projects. The tourist board believes that these efforts, combined with the “CopenPay” scheme, will enhance the city’s reputation as a sustainable travel destination.

Local businesses are also optimistic about the program. Anna Larsen, owner of a popular rooftop bar participating in the scheme, says, “We are excited to be part of this initiative. It’s a great way to engage tourists and promote sustainability. Plus, it offers a unique experience that sets Copenhagen apart from other destinations.”

The tourist board is planning to collect data throughout the trial to evaluate its effectiveness. This includes tracking participation rates, the types of activities chosen by tourists, and feedback from both visitors and local businesses. The results will help determine the future direction of the program.

As the trial progresses, the city will share updates and success stories on social media and through local news outlets. They hope to create a sense of community and collective effort among residents and tourists alike.

In the meantime, Petersen encourages all visitors to consider participating, even if just for a small reward. “Every little action counts,” she says. “Together, we can make a big difference.”

If the “CopenPay” scheme proves successful, Copenhagen could set a new standard for how cities around the world approach sustainable tourism, ensuring that the joy of travel doesn’t come at the expense of the planet.

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