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Photo: Visit Copenhagen

Copenhagen “becoming a human zoo for tourists”

Recent tourism accolades are threatening to overwhelm the city, but some experts think more capacity is needed first.

Critics are protesting that the Danish capital is already swamped with tourists, but now that Lonely Planet has named Copenhagen as the world’s best city to visit in 2019 some are warning there will be too many to handle.

Lonely Planet’s was one of several accolades given to the city last year, and now there are fears that too many tourists will visit in 2019 as a result.

Inbound tourism has reached “saturation point”, warns Bent Lohmann, chairman of the city centre’s local committee Indre By Lokaludvalg.

“You don’t even meet locals in Nyhavn anymore. The tourists see only other tourists,” he complained to the Danish daily Politiken.

Lohmann especially has in mind the tourist buses that drive relentlessly through the city centre.

“Clearly they can’t walk around themselves – presumably it’s dangerous for them to walk on the cobblestones,” he said. “Meanwhile, the city is becoming more like a zoo with the tourists gazing out through the bus windows.”

Mindful of the backlash among locals, the marketing body Wonderful Copenhagen says it is going to focus on attracting more tourists this year away from the centre to other parts of the city.

Capacity required
But some experts do not believe that the recent surge in worldwide publicity will radically boost tourist numbers.

“Copenhagen was already very popular,” Szilvia Gyimóthy, associate professor at Aalborg University’s Department of Culture and Global Studies, tells Politiken. “Rankings tend to be a bigger influence for completely unknown destinations.”

More important for the Danish capital, she thinks, are investments designed to free up capacity, such as expanding the terminals at the airport, refreshing the harbour waterfront and creating more accommodation.

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