Cycling Tourism Danish Style

| March 2, 2015
Credit Cycling Copenhagen (2)

Cycling Copenhagen arranges trips on designer bicycles and shows “Danish life” in Copenhagen. Photo: Cycling Copenhagen.

Cycling tourism in Europe is growing, and more and more destinations are trying to get a piece of the pie. The interest in cycling holidays is rising, and competition is hard.

By Claus Rex, Copenhagen Lanes

From niche to national cycling strategy
Five years ago, VisitDenmark estimated that cycling tourism accounted for 4% of all Danish tourism and was therefore a niche that only a small group of tourists were actually interested in. Findings like this and a general lack of interest meant that investments in cycling tourism were small and few and far between, and that it wasn’t taken seriously within the tourism industry.
Just three years later and things were quite different; in 2013, it was revealed in the findings of the national cycling strategy that 25% of tourists are cycling tourists.

Before you leap for joy about this impressive and surprising growth, it is worth noting that the change is mostly due to statistics derived due to a change in definition of what a cycling tourist is – and not least because of a new and, in the case of Europe, unique approach to cycling tourism.

Promising perspectives for Danish cycling tourism

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

Photo: Danish Cyclists’ Federation

Denmark is big on cycling, but compared internationally, it is a weak country concerning cycle tourism, at least in a classical sense. For a German, the bicycle is highly regarded as an instrument for recreation and fitness, but for the Dane it is for daily transport. This difference in the cycling culture is a large part of the explanation as to what the differences are in these countries and their potential for cycling tourism. For the German it is exotic to set off on a journey on a bicycle, for the Dane it is the everyday.

Over many years, we have laid long cycle lanes and had focus on the classic cycling tourist who moves from place to place. This is a recipe that for example Bodensee has had great success with and which resembles the model that the whole of Europe uses.

Denmark is, however, a different sort of country. On the tourism front, the most common form of overnighting opportunities is at holiday homes that are usually rented out a week at a time, and the most renowned ‘landmark’ for cycling is Copenhagen.

In Denmark, the classic long route can be supplemented with cycling experiences that are unique to Denmark. Therefore, in the last few years, day-trip routes with themed experiences have been developed close to holiday home areas, and in Copenhagen the offer of guided tours, a trip around the harbour, rental bicycles and experiences with the focus on cycle culture have recently boomed.

All this suggests that the growth in classic cycle tourism will continue and Denmark has with its landscapes, routes, short distances, safety and many attractions good opportunities for participating in this growth, despite the hard competition.

In conclusion, cycling tourism in Denmark has an even greater potential. There are many possibilities to develop tourism based on a cycling culture, holiday homes and the brand of being a cycling country. The tourism industry has welcomed the cyclists – now the cycle industry can welcome the tourists.

Category: March 2015, Tourism and Leisure

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