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Why Copenhagen’s Eco-Friendly Rewards Program Could Change How You Travel

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Copenhagen’s tourist board has announced an innovative trial scheme rewarding tourists with free food and activities for participating in environmentally friendly tasks. This initiative, set to launch on July 15, encourages visitors to engage in activities like litter-picking, using public transport, or biking around the city.

The “CopenPay” scheme is designed to help offset the environmental impact of tourism in the Danish capital. Rikke Holm Petersen, the communications chief of Copenhagen’s tourist board, highlighted the environmental concerns associated with travel. “When you travel abroad – if you fly to other places or you travel by car – you pollute,” she said. The initiative aims to encourage tourists to adopt more sustainable practices while visiting.

Under the CopenPay scheme, tourists can claim rewards such as free lunches, coffees, glasses of wine, and kayak rentals in exchange for their eco-friendly efforts. The tourist board hopes that by offering these incentives, visitors will be motivated to contribute to keeping the city clean and green.

The project operates on a trust-based system, meaning that attractions participating in the scheme are unlikely to require proof that the green activities have been completed. However, some attractions might ask for simple evidence, such as a photo of the tourist riding a bike or a public transportation ticket. The goal is to make participation easy and hassle-free, encouraging more tourists to take part.

So far, 24 organizations, including museums, rooftop bars, and kayaking charities, have signed up to the pilot program. Despite the excitement surrounding the scheme, Ms. Petersen anticipates that only a small percentage of visitors will participate. Last year, Denmark recorded over 12 million overnight stays across the country, showcasing the potential reach of the initiative.

Othy Jasper, a 25-year-old Londoner who plans to visit Copenhagen for work in August, expressed his awareness of the environmental impact of travel. “It can really rack up – you have to think, is it essential, is it worthwhile?” he said. While he appreciates the scheme’s efforts, Jasper mentioned that he might not personally engage in litter-picking for rewards, finding it a bit of an effort.

If the trial proves successful, the scheme could be extended throughout the year. Ms. Petersen envisions a future where tourists take a greener mindset back home as their souvenir from Copenhagen. “Imagine if we could have people taking a greener mindset back with them – if that was the souvenir they got – that would be amazing,” she said.

This initiative reflects a broader trend towards sustainable travel, as cities around the world seek to balance tourism with environmental preservation. Copenhagen’s approach aligns with global efforts to promote responsible tourism practices and reduce the carbon footprint of travel.

The CopenPay scheme could bring several benefits to Copenhagen. By incentivizing tourists to participate in environmentally friendly activities, the city can maintain its cleanliness and enhance its reputation as a sustainable travel destination. Additionally, the initiative might encourage more tourists to use public transportation and bicycles, reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

While the scheme has many potential benefits, there are also challenges to consider. Ensuring that tourists are aware of the initiative and motivated to participate will be crucial. Additionally, maintaining the trust-based system without rigorous checks could be challenging, as it relies on the honesty and goodwill of the participants.

The success of the CopenPay scheme could serve as a model for other cities looking to promote sustainable tourism. By providing tangible rewards for eco-friendly behavior, Copenhagen is taking a proactive step towards reducing the environmental impact of tourism. This initiative demonstrates that small changes in tourist behavior can have a significant positive impact on the environment.

Copenhagen’s tourist board has introduced a pioneering scheme that rewards tourists for engaging in environmentally friendly activities. This initiative aims to offset the environmental burden of tourism and encourage sustainable practices among visitors. As the scheme launches, the world will be watching to see if it can successfully balance the joys of travel with the imperative of environmental responsibility. The CopenPay scheme could very well become a blueprint for cities worldwide striving to harmonize tourism with sustainability.

This story was originally featured on BBC

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