Copenhagen to reward eco-friendly tourists with free food and tours

COPENHAGEN   -   Visitors to Copenhagen who engage in environmentally-friendly activities such as litter picking or traveling on public transport could be rewarded with free food, cultural experiences and tours as part of a new pilot program. The CopenPay trial scheme, which runs between July 15 and August 11, involves “transforming green actions into currency for cultural experiences,” the Danish capital’s tourism authority Visit Copenhagen, also known as Wonderful Copenhagen, said in a statement Tuesday. For example, visitors who take plastic waste to the National Gallery of Denmark will gain access to a workshop where they can turn it into a piece of art, while those who cycle or take public transport to the city’s famous heating plant will be allowed to ski down an artificial ski slope on the building’s roof. “CopenPay rewards actions such as cycling, participating in cleanup efforts, or volunteering at urban farms with access to a variety of enriching experiences and everyday wonders of Copenhagen. This includes complimentary guided museum tours, free kayak rentals, and even a free vegetarian lunch made from local crops,” the Wonderful Copenhagen statement added. The Danish capital is popular with visitors for its pretty architecture, world-class food and a safe, clean, green environment. It’s a great place to get on two wheels, with 382 kilometers (237 miles) of bike lanes, and 62% of all citizens commute by bicycle, according to the tourism board. “With CopenPay, we’re empowering people to experience more of what Copenhagen offers while placing less burden on our planet,” said Mikkel Aarø Hansen, CEO of Wonderful Copenhagen, in a statement. “It’s about creating meaningful and memorable experiences that are enjoyable and environmentally responsible.” Rewards may be given if visitors show a public transport ticket, for example, but the system is mostly based on trust. A map is available online showing more than 20 participating venues. The pilot project could be implemented year-round if it proves to be successful.  The program is launching at a time of increasing concern over the environmental and social impacts of tourism, which have sparked protests in Barcelona, the Canary Islands and Mallorca recently.  “We must turn tourism from being an environmental burden into a force for positive change, and one important step in this transformation is to change how we move around on the destination, what we consume, and how we interact with the locals,” said Hansen in the Wonderful Copenhagen press release.