Changing the story about bike touring

| August 25, 2012

 When the Danish Cyclists’ Federation and its partners rebuild the service structures around the Danish parts of the North Sea Route and the Berlin-Copenhagen Route, they will draw on best-practice cases from all over Europe.

By Elizabeth Frederiksen, Danish Cyclists’ Federation

‘Powered by Cycling: Panorama’ is the ambitious title of a grand new project initiated by the Danish Cyclists’ Federation. The project’s goal is to help the ailing tourism industry along the Danish coasts by adding a bicycle ‘experience’ to holiday goers’ visits to certain coast destinations.

Project Manager Jesper Pørksen explains the long name of the project:

“The word Panorama was chosen because it describes well what awaits you along the Danish coastline: a splendid view of the seas and of the infinite sky above the flat and bicycle-friendly Danish landscape. Powered by Cycling refers to the more serious part of the project: That bicycle tourism is one of the means for inducing growth in remote coast areas.”

Coastal tourism in decline

And growth is needed. Tourism in Danish coastal areas has suffered a decline in visitors in the past decade. The reasons are many, but one major explanation is the lack of activity.

“The Panorama project will provide holiday goers with an activity and an opportunity for a unique experience,” says Jesper. “Our main assets are the North Sea Route and the Berlin-Copenhagen Route, which run along the Danish west and east coasts, respectively. These routes are internationally renowned, and we believe many tourists will find it attractive to cycle on these iconic routes.”

Around 5,000 cyclists venture the Copenhagen-Berlin Route in its entirety every year. The Danish part of the route will receive a complete makeover in the coming years, as will 560 km of the North Sea Route.
Photo: Danish Cyclists’ Federation/Mikkel Østergaard

A number of local route suggestions connecting the iconic routes with local attractions are being developed to lure non-cycling holiday goers from their sun beds to the saddle. These route suggestions will also provide touring cyclists with an excuse for making a stop in otherwise quickly-passed coastal towns.

Best practices

The Danish Cyclists’ Federation has long served as a think tank on bicycle tourism, collecting and distributing facts, knowledge, and ideas. Initiatives in countries like Germany and Switzerland, which have invested heavily in bicycling as a leisure activity, have been followed closely. Armed with its knowledge and examples of best practices, the Federation is now talking with municipalities and others about how to build a ‘bicycle-friendly’ infrastructure along the coastlines.

But according to Jesper, this is the easy part of the project: “What is difficult is to prove to the tourism industry that not only are bicycling opportunities demanded; bicycle tourists are also great customers. The common belief is that cyclists bike all day, eat a pack of toast, and camp in a tent. However, our database shows that most often tourists on bicycles are ‘empty nesters’ with money to spend and a huge appetite on the good things in life. We need to change the perception.”

Facts:

  • ‘Powered by Cycling: Panorama’ has a budget of € 3,3 m and is co-financed by the European Union under the preparatory action ‘Sustainable Tourism.’
  • The project runs until 2015.
  • For further information, please contact Project Manager Jesper Pørksen jep@cylistforbundet.dk.
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Category: Danish Cycling Know How, Newsletter 8, Tourism and Leisure