2.15 Understanding sustainability: Wonderful Copenhagen

The case study presents Wonderful Copenhagen's strategy for sustainable tourism and how it contributes to the UN SDGs while addressing sustainability from a triple bottom-line approach.

Generating Positive Impacts on Local and Global Development

Through this case study, you'll be able to understand how the DMO’s strategy can serve as a guide to act responsibly and develop the destination sustainably when aligned with certification methods.

Generating Positive Impacts on Local and Global Development

Through this case study, you'll be able to understand how the DMO’s strategy can serve as a guide to act responsibly and develop the destination sustainably when aligned with certification methods.

Main Takeaways

  • It is important to consider which collaborations and partnerships could result more beneficial to achieve specific goals and try to establish them.
  • Using the SDGs as a supporting method to develop the DMO's sustainability strategy can help guide our decisions.


Back in 2018, Wonderful Copenhagen launched the capital's first strategy for sustainable tourism under the name: Tourism for Good. The strategy's name refers to the fact that tourism both locally and globally is growing and will continue to do so in the future. Thus, the strategy outlines the scope for what Wonderful Copenhagen can and will do to develop the destination when sustainable growth is the only relevant kind of growth.

The strategy addresses sustainable tourism from an environmental, social and economic approach and at the same time contributes directly to the fulfilment of the 17 UN Development Goals.

The DMO has identified that it cannot create the desired change alone, which calls for partnerships and co-creation to define how to operate and help bring the tourism industry onto the journey of sustainable transition. Thus, the strategy is a starting point and an invitation - both to join them, and for others to invite Wonderful Copenhagen to support their efforts.

They have identified that the strategy is relevant to anyone involved in the tourism development of Greater Copenhagen, and it specifically reaches out to attractions, hotels, conference organisers and venues, cruise companies, transport and tour operators, the public sector, industry organisations, NGOs, universities and others with an interest in the tourism value chains.

Lastly, they highlight that as the journey towards sustainable tourism is a joint effort and because the world is in constant change, the strategy has been under continuous development since its launch and is to be considered a work-in-progress.

4 Focus Areas

Broadening Tourism

The goal is not fewer visitors, but that they make broader use of the destination. If the destination is developed to be used in a broader way, travellers will get a richer experience which in turn is likely to result in higher visitor satisfaction.

In order to achieve the above mentioned, Wonderful Copenhagen intends to involve tourism organisations and DMOs, attractions, transport and tour operators, local authorities, sleeping facilities, urban planners, architects and civil society. They will tackle this from two different perspectives:

  1. There are many experiences outside central Copenhagen, outside the main attractions, outside the high season, at all times of the day. The DMO will promote these experiences to broaden the use of Greater Copenhagen geographically, time-wise and in terms of the interests catered for.
  2. Second, the city’s facilities must also be used in a wider way, and benefit locals and travellers alike. The DMO will avoid creating facilities solely for visitors, and instead create synergies that also benefit locals. This calls for Wonderful Copenhagen to establish a dialogue outside the tourism sector.

This supports SDGs 8 - Decent work & economic growth, 9 - Industry, innovation & infrastructure, and 11 - Sustainable cities & communities.

Tourism Choices Matter

If tourism consumption and behaviour are managed responsibly, we will lower the negative environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism. The choices available to visitors will be largely responsible ones. The visitor’s perception of the quality of the destination will improve and thereby the likelihood that the visitor will recommend the destination to others.

In order to achieve the above mentioned, Wonderful Copenhagen intends to involve tourism organisations and DMOs, industry organisations, hotels and conference centres, certification systems, local authorities, transport and tour operators. They will tackle this from three different perspectives:

  1. The experiences and products that are available to the visitors must take sustainability into consideration. Thus, Wonderful Copenhagen will support and encourage the tourism sector to develop sustainable tourism products and infrastructure through playing an active part in development projects and encouraging the use of third-party sustainability certifications in the tourism sector.
  2. In order to ensure the long-term sustainable development of the destination, the DMO will create greater coherence between the segments they choose to attract and the destination they envision.
  3. Sustainability is already one of the destination's core stories, which will be continued, further developed and strengthened by prioritising communication about the sustainable choices visitors can make and the sustainable experiences they can have.

These support SDGs 6 - Clean water & sanitation, 7 - affordable & clean energy, 11 - Sustainable cities & communities, 12 - Responsible consumption & production, and 14 - Life below water.

Partnerships for Good

Without information, it is impossible to know how to make the biggest sustainable impact. Without measurements, it is impossible to know­ whether ­it ­is ­worth­ the effort.­Without­ bringing that knowledge into partnerships, we­ will ­find ­it impossible ­to ­create ­sustain­able change that is bigger than ourselves. Thus, Wonderful Copenhagen will foster informed partnerships and will achieve this by approaching the issue from three different perspectives:

  1. Wonderful Copenhagen and the tourism industry must make sustainable choices with the best possible knowledge at hand. Thus, Wonderful Copenhagen must be well informed about the sustainability work and needs of the tourism industry to support a sustainable transition in the best possible way. For this, the DMO will measure and document results both in isolation and against other destinations in an international context.
  2. This knowledge should be activated in Wonderful Copenhagen’s unique position between the public sector, private sector and civil society. In this position, the DMO must set the agenda for collaborations and promote sustainable tourism specifically and a sustainable transition in general. These collaborations may involve any relevant organisations and the knowledge can be activated to promote sustainability outside Wonderful Copenhagen’s own destination.
  3. Collaborations around major events in the city where sustainability is a central theme can support sustainable tourism development through the event’s consumption and the attention on the subject which the presence of the event provides. Wonderful Copenhagen will therefore work actively to attract these types of events, which will lead to a positive chain of events where sustainable tourism development makes Copenhagen a more attractive host city for major events on sustainability and such major events contribute to sustainable tourism development.

By means of achieving the above mentioned, Wonderful Copenhagen intends to involve tourism organisations, universities and scientific communities, PCOs, national and international NGOs, hotels and conference centres, local authorities and industry organisations.

This supports SDGs 11 - Sustainable cities & communities, 12 - Responsible consumption & production, and 17 - Partnerships for the goals.

Leading by Example

By taking substantial sustainability considerations in its own operations and managing the work in a professional manner, Wonderful Copenhagen may be seen as a sustainability role model which others may choose to follow. They will approach this from three different angles:

  1. The organisation’s procurement, operation of offices, transport habits and the events which Wonderful Copenhagen organises all have negative environmental impacts that must be reduced.
  2. The DMO must create a culture in the organisation where sustainability considerations are naturally incorporated into projects, partnerships, collaborations, campaigns, events, recruitment and other activities initiated.
  3. Wonderful copenhagen must work methodically with sustainability management through annual targets, implementation plans and sustainability reporting as well as environmental certification of their operations.

By means of achieving the above mentioned, the DMO intends to involve the DMO's suppliers and certification systems.

This supports SDGs 6 - Clean water & sanitation, 7 - affordable & clean energy, and 12 - Responsible consumption & production.

If you want, you can take a look at an overview of the Tourism for Good strategy and its accomplishments by the year 2021 in the documents below. 👀👇

Generating Positive Impacts on Local and Global Development

Through this case study, you'll be able to understand how the DMO’s strategy can serve as a guide to act responsibly and develop the destination sustainably when aligned with certification methods.

Generating Positive Impacts on Local and Global Development

Through this case study, you'll be able to understand how the DMO’s strategy can serve as a guide to act responsibly and develop the destination sustainably when aligned with certification methods.

Main Takeaways

  • It is important to consider which collaborations and partnerships could result more beneficial to achieve specific goals and try to establish them.
  • Using the SDGs as a supporting method to develop the DMO's sustainability strategy can help guide our decisions.


Back in 2018, Wonderful Copenhagen launched the capital's first strategy for sustainable tourism under the name: Tourism for Good. The strategy's name refers to the fact that tourism both locally and globally is growing and will continue to do so in the future. Thus, the strategy outlines the scope for what Wonderful Copenhagen can and will do to develop the destination when sustainable growth is the only relevant kind of growth.

The strategy addresses sustainable tourism from an environmental, social and economic approach and at the same time contributes directly to the fulfilment of the 17 UN Development Goals.

The DMO has identified that it cannot create the desired change alone, which calls for partnerships and co-creation to define how to operate and help bring the tourism industry onto the journey of sustainable transition. Thus, the strategy is a starting point and an invitation - both to join them, and for others to invite Wonderful Copenhagen to support their efforts.

They have identified that the strategy is relevant to anyone involved in the tourism development of Greater Copenhagen, and it specifically reaches out to attractions, hotels, conference organisers and venues, cruise companies, transport and tour operators, the public sector, industry organisations, NGOs, universities and others with an interest in the tourism value chains.

Lastly, they highlight that as the journey towards sustainable tourism is a joint effort and because the world is in constant change, the strategy has been under continuous development since its launch and is to be considered a work-in-progress.

4 Focus Areas

Broadening Tourism

The goal is not fewer visitors, but that they make broader use of the destination. If the destination is developed to be used in a broader way, travellers will get a richer experience which in turn is likely to result in higher visitor satisfaction.

In order to achieve the above mentioned, Wonderful Copenhagen intends to involve tourism organisations and DMOs, attractions, transport and tour operators, local authorities, sleeping facilities, urban planners, architects and civil society. They will tackle this from two different perspectives:

  1. There are many experiences outside central Copenhagen, outside the main attractions, outside the high season, at all times of the day. The DMO will promote these experiences to broaden the use of Greater Copenhagen geographically, time-wise and in terms of the interests catered for.
  2. Second, the city’s facilities must also be used in a wider way, and benefit locals and travellers alike. The DMO will avoid creating facilities solely for visitors, and instead create synergies that also benefit locals. This calls for Wonderful Copenhagen to establish a dialogue outside the tourism sector.

This supports SDGs 8 - Decent work & economic growth, 9 - Industry, innovation & infrastructure, and 11 - Sustainable cities & communities.

Tourism Choices Matter

If tourism consumption and behaviour are managed responsibly, we will lower the negative environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism. The choices available to visitors will be largely responsible ones. The visitor’s perception of the quality of the destination will improve and thereby the likelihood that the visitor will recommend the destination to others.

In order to achieve the above mentioned, Wonderful Copenhagen intends to involve tourism organisations and DMOs, industry organisations, hotels and conference centres, certification systems, local authorities, transport and tour operators. They will tackle this from three different perspectives:

  1. The experiences and products that are available to the visitors must take sustainability into consideration. Thus, Wonderful Copenhagen will support and encourage the tourism sector to develop sustainable tourism products and infrastructure through playing an active part in development projects and encouraging the use of third-party sustainability certifications in the tourism sector.
  2. In order to ensure the long-term sustainable development of the destination, the DMO will create greater coherence between the segments they choose to attract and the destination they envision.
  3. Sustainability is already one of the destination's core stories, which will be continued, further developed and strengthened by prioritising communication about the sustainable choices visitors can make and the sustainable experiences they can have.

These support SDGs 6 - Clean water & sanitation, 7 - affordable & clean energy, 11 - Sustainable cities & communities, 12 - Responsible consumption & production, and 14 - Life below water.

Partnerships for Good

Without information, it is impossible to know how to make the biggest sustainable impact. Without measurements, it is impossible to know­ whether ­it ­is ­worth­ the effort.­Without­ bringing that knowledge into partnerships, we­ will ­find ­it impossible ­to ­create ­sustain­able change that is bigger than ourselves. Thus, Wonderful Copenhagen will foster informed partnerships and will achieve this by approaching the issue from three different perspectives:

  1. Wonderful Copenhagen and the tourism industry must make sustainable choices with the best possible knowledge at hand. Thus, Wonderful Copenhagen must be well informed about the sustainability work and needs of the tourism industry to support a sustainable transition in the best possible way. For this, the DMO will measure and document results both in isolation and against other destinations in an international context.
  2. This knowledge should be activated in Wonderful Copenhagen’s unique position between the public sector, private sector and civil society. In this position, the DMO must set the agenda for collaborations and promote sustainable tourism specifically and a sustainable transition in general. These collaborations may involve any relevant organisations and the knowledge can be activated to promote sustainability outside Wonderful Copenhagen’s own destination.
  3. Collaborations around major events in the city where sustainability is a central theme can support sustainable tourism development through the event’s consumption and the attention on the subject which the presence of the event provides. Wonderful Copenhagen will therefore work actively to attract these types of events, which will lead to a positive chain of events where sustainable tourism development makes Copenhagen a more attractive host city for major events on sustainability and such major events contribute to sustainable tourism development.

By means of achieving the above mentioned, Wonderful Copenhagen intends to involve tourism organisations, universities and scientific communities, PCOs, national and international NGOs, hotels and conference centres, local authorities and industry organisations.

This supports SDGs 11 - Sustainable cities & communities, 12 - Responsible consumption & production, and 17 - Partnerships for the goals.

Leading by Example

By taking substantial sustainability considerations in its own operations and managing the work in a professional manner, Wonderful Copenhagen may be seen as a sustainability role model which others may choose to follow. They will approach this from three different angles:

  1. The organisation’s procurement, operation of offices, transport habits and the events which Wonderful Copenhagen organises all have negative environmental impacts that must be reduced.
  2. The DMO must create a culture in the organisation where sustainability considerations are naturally incorporated into projects, partnerships, collaborations, campaigns, events, recruitment and other activities initiated.
  3. Wonderful copenhagen must work methodically with sustainability management through annual targets, implementation plans and sustainability reporting as well as environmental certification of their operations.

By means of achieving the above mentioned, the DMO intends to involve the DMO's suppliers and certification systems.

This supports SDGs 6 - Clean water & sanitation, 7 - affordable & clean energy, and 12 - Responsible consumption & production.

If you want, you can take a look at an overview of the Tourism for Good strategy and its accomplishments by the year 2021 in the documents below. 👀👇