The role of Destination Nord in sustainable development

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Lærke Tornby Colding Thaysen
4. term, Tourism, Master (Master Programme)
In Northern Jutland, tourism is a very important industry for the businesses both working directly and indirectly with tourists. The land districts are especially dependent on the tourists since many of their jobs are created from the tourism. In 2019 the visitor numbers peaked, but the tourists also started to become more aware of sustainability. This pushed for the governments to act, which was reflected in the last election in 2019. This was also the year where Simon Kollerup, the Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs stated that he wanted Denmark to become one of the world’s leading destinations in sustainability. He argued that tourism is a necessity for the businesses in Denmark, and that tourism also brings a lot of advantages for the locals. A project called “Joint Growth” was initiated between the 11 municipalities of Northern Jutland as a response to deviant tourism numbers in 2018. This resulted in a region that worked together in tourism marketing, which arguable helped them during the pandemic, where Northern Jutland had the lowest decline in visitors.
After the travel restrictions has been lifted, the tourism of 2022 appears to be back to the old travel patterns. The Danes had contributed to a high number of tourists around Denmark during the pandemic because they were banned from travelling abroad, however, with borders opening again, the Danes are eager to travel internationally again. These travel patterns have however also been affected by the war in Ukraine, a need for closeness with the family which has been harder to visit during the pandemic, the possibilities of the nearby tourism experiences, and being protective of their money since the rising prices of oil, energy, and groceries.
In 2019, the same year as project “Joint Growth” was initiated, the project Instant Green Tourism was initiated by Destination Nord. The project had the intent to help tourism businesses who signed up voluntarily to get help becoming more sustainable. They could see that sustainability was a new competition parameter in the industry, and therefore needed to work towards the demand of the tourists. The policy perspective has generally been with a focus in growth for many years in Denmark, which is still seen in the marketing campaigns and the statements from the politicians and DMO’s. Wanting to expand the destinations for short travels from Aalborg Airport is just one contradicting example of wanting a sustainable development, but still suiting the travel options to the demand of the tourists.
When a critical assessment of the project Instant Green Tourism was conducted, it became clear that no follow up work was done, other than starting new projects with some of the same businesses afterwards. When comparing the project with the initiatives done by Destination Fyn, there is a big difference in the responsibility taken by the destination organisation. In Destination Fyn, they have made the Sustainability Barometer, which purpose is to align the businesses’ work with sustainability to nine of the goals from the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. By doing so, the businesses can better track if their work makes sense to them, be measuring the results of the investments they put in it. The businesses who participated in Instant Green Tourism could have very fundamental issues they needed help with to become more sustainable, whereas others might need the help to communicate the work they were doing already. Although it was great to give the businesses the help they needed, it can be argued weather or not these initiatives would proceed to happen when the project was over, and they were left to find solutions on their own.
As seen in the case with Tornby Strand Camping, this process can be very difficult for business owners who do not know where to seek the information and having the economy of their business as their main priority.
The role as Nanna Bentzen from Destination Nord explained it, was more as a facilitator helping the businesses with the demands they might have. However, getting closer to the sustainability goals for 2030, the DMO might be taking on a different role of creating the framework for how this is done, and take on more responsibility as the organisation having the overview of alle the businesses. Therefore, if a DMO takes on the responsibility as seen at Destination Fyn, it can put sustainable development over the priority of growth and give the businesses a reason to keep seeking more sustainable solutions to run their businesses. Many projects are already being played out as we speak, as Henriette M. Hansen mentioned, however, for action to happen, guidelines need to be given to the businesses to make a real difference.
Publication date30 May 2022
Number of pages41
External collaboratorNanna Bentzen
Projektleder Nanna Bentzen
Information group
ID: 471676205