Copenhagen Will Reward Environmentally-Responsible Tourists With Free Perks

In the last few years, climate change and environmental factors have meant that we’ve had to become even more careful when choosing our holiday destinations. In May, Europe was hit by the earliest heatwave to date, while floods have swept across China, wildfires have raged in Greece, and earthquakes have shaken countries from Taiwan to Turkey.

Tourism accounts for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, meaning that it is increasingly important to travel responsibly—not just in our chosen methods of transport, but once we’ve arrived at our destinations, too. Several attempts have been made to temper the impact of tourists: For example, selfies have been banned in certain locations in Spain, Sri Lanka, and Portofino, Italy; Venice has established new rules banning loudspeakers and tour group sizes to 25 people; and sitting on monuments such as the Spanish Steps in Rome could result in a hefty fine. These measures were introduced as a way to reduce foot traffic in areas of natural beauty and prevent damage to historical landmarks. While many governments and councils dedicate their time to new laws and regulations that prevent tourists from arriving, one has opted for the opposite approach.

Copenhagen to reward travelers for eco-friendly behavior

Copenhagen has long been hailed as one of Europe’s coolest and most progressive cities, and the latest campaign announced by its tourism board only serves to bolster its reputation. The trial program begins on Monday, July 15, and will reward travelers for acting in an eco-friendly manner. Those who engage in an environmentally responsible activity like riding a bike, taking public transportation, or collecting plastic will be offered a thank-you gift. These free perks may come in the form of a meal at a restaurant, coffee, wine, Danish pastries, museum admission, kayak rentals to float along the river, and extra activity time at leisure centers or cultural workshops.

The campaign, titled CopenPay, is designed to help offset the negative environmental impact of travelers visiting the Danish capital. The tourism board, Visit Copenhagen, hopes that this will “encourage sustainable behavior and enrich the cultural experience of visitors and residents in Copenhagen by transforming green actions into currency for cultural experiences.”

At the time of writing, there are 24 organizations and businesses participating, including The National Museum, The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen Surf School, Go Boat, the rooftop bar Level Six, and the artificial ski slope Copenhill.

“When you travel abroad—if you fly to other places or you travel by car—you pollute,” the tourist board’s communications chief Rikke Holm Petersen told the BBC. “One of the things we can change is getting people to act more sustainably at the destination. Imagine if we could have people taking a greener mindset back with them. If that was the souvenir they got, that would be amazing,” Petersen says. The pilot scheme will run until Sunday, August 11. If it is successful, then it will continue for the rest of the year.

A version of this article originally appeared in Condé Nast Traveller UK.

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