Tourists spent a total of DKK 128.0 billion in Denmark in 2017, of which DKK 54.8 billion – or 43% of total tourism spend – came from inbound tourists, representing 4.6% of Danish exports. Including indirect effects, tourism GVA generated by tourist spending represented 4.2% of the Danish economy. Of this, the direct contribution of tourism to the economy amounted to 2.4% GVA. The effect on employment from tourist spending was 161 000 full-time jobs. In 2017 there were 257 000 jobs in tourism industries, equivalent to 8.8% of total employment in Denmark. Travel exports accounted for 11.6% of total service exports in 2018.

Total bed-nights grew by 3.0% between 2017 and 2018 with a total of 53.9 million tourist bed-nights in 2018. Bed-nights from inbound tourists grew by 3.4%, with inbound tourists accounting for 51% of total bed-nights.

Since 2017, expenditure by visitors in private sharing accommodation has been included in the Danish Tourism Satellite Account. Estimates show a significant increase in the private sharing accommodation economy in recent years, with bed-nights up 14% from 2017 to 2018. Inbound tourists accounted for 79% of these bed-nights in 2018, down from 82% in 2017.

According to accommodation statistics, the top three inbound markets in 2018 were Germany, Norway and Sweden. Together, these three markets accounted for 72% of all inbound bed-nights in Denmark, with Germany alone accounting for more than half (57%). The three main growth markets from 2017 to 2018 were Germany (contributing 58% of the growth in all inbound bed-nights), United States (9%) and France (5%).

Tourism policy falls under the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs. The Ministry also co-operates with other ministries on issues related to tourism, including the Ministry of Environment and Food, Transport and Housing, Foreign Affairs, and Culture.

The role of the Danish National Tourism Forum is to lead and co-ordinate tourism policy, working in close collaboration with the Danish tourism industry. Established in 2015 and chaired by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the Forum is also responsible for drafting national tourism strategies and reporting on the state of tourism nationally.

The Danish Tourism Advisory Board advises the Danish National Tourism Forum on current and future opportunities and challenges, and brings together a broad selection of tourism stakeholders from public, private and civil society.

The international branding and marketing of Denmark is managed by VisitDenmark, which is also responsible for market research and monitoring trends and activity. Three national tourism development organisations complete the national tourism administration structures: Danish Coastal and Nature Tourism, Danish Business and Conferencing Tourism, and Wonderful Copenhagen, which includes Danish City Tourism. These agencies are responsible for developing their respective business areas through strategic development plans aligned with the existing national tourism strategy.

A decentralised network of destination management organisations develop, co-ordinate and operate strategic local business support activities. In 2018-2019, an important policy initiative has been reforming the public tourism administrative system as part of a wider reform of Denmark’s business support system (Box 1.2). By the end of 2020, the reform shall result in 15-25 local destination management organisations.

In December 2019, the Danish government announced the development of a national strategy for sustainable growth in Danish tourism. The Danish National Tourism Forum will draft the new national strategy working in close collaboration with the tourism industry and relevant stakeholders. As part of the work, the Danish National Tourism Forum will, among other duties, focus on opportunities and challenges for the Danish tourism industry as result of the need for a more sustainable tourism sector, digitalisation and increased international competition. The National Tourism Forum will also suggest guidelines for sustainable growth in Danish tourism that balances environmental, economic and social sustainability, thus contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Likewise, the Danish National Tourism Forum will suggest initiatives to strengthen Danish tourism.

The existing National Tourism Strategy (2016) has been the framework guiding the industry’s development since 2016. Starting from the common vision of being an engaging tourism destinations and creating a variety of quality experiences, the strategy sets out ten policy priorities:

  • The tourism industry should have a robust framework to enable continued growth.

  • Efforts made to promote tourism should be effective and the use of public funds in marketing activity should add value.

  • Denmark should be marketed in a co-ordinated manner with an emphasis on digital channels.

  • Strong destinations should drive growth in tourism.

  • Tourists should enjoy high quality experiences in Denmark.

  • The digitalisation of Danish tourism should be strengthened.

  • It should be easy for tourists to get to and to get around Denmark.

  • The tourist industry should be competent and innovative.

  • The development of Danish tourism should be evidence-based.

  • All of Denmark should welcome tourists.

The Strategy sets out three goals to 2025:

  • Grow visitation by a third, equivalent to 17 million more bed-nights compared with 2015: progress is on track, with 2018 bed-nights (0.6 million ahead of target).

  • Grow tourism spending to DKK 140 billion, equivalent to an additional DKK 45 billion compared to 2014: progress on track, with 2017 tourism spending of DKK 128 billion ahead of target.

  • Visitor satisfaction scores in line with Northern European average: on target.

In 2019, the Danish Board for Local Business Promotion launched two new funds to: i) support local efforts to develop strong and attractive destinations, high-quality tourist experiences and effective international marketing; and ii) support the consolidation of existing tourist information organisations into stronger destination management organisations. With a total budget of DKK 50 million, destination management organisations can apply for the destination development fund, while public entities, enterprises and local organisations can apply for the broader cross-geographical tourism development fund.

In 2017, VisitDenmark launched the first national data strategy for Danish tourism. A core element of this strategy is the TourismTech Data Lake project, to collect data from tourism stakeholders, develop new tourism business models, and create insights into what attracts international tourists to Denmark. In 2019, a pilot project was launched together with private partners to develop a travel prediction model by testing hypotheses about why tourists visit Denmark. In the first stage, hypotheses are tested in each partners own data-pool. At a later stage, a data lake may also be developed.

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