19 Jul, 2015
COPENHAGEN — AS we glide under a bridge on the city canal tour, our guide announces that we have entered a quiet zone. “This is a residential area,” she says, nodding toward balconies where Danes are enjoying coffee, or maybe wine. “I’ll resume talking in five minutes.”
Denmark is one of the world’s top destinations for conferences and a mainstay of trans-Atlantic cruise ships. Attracted by noir detective series and fashionable cuisine, nine million tourists last year visited this city, a record for Denmark, which has fewer than six million people.
The “quiet zones” are emblematic of the Danish philosophy toward tourists: They should blend in with the Danish way of life, not the other way around. The Danes have prohibited foreigners from buying vacation cottages on their seacoasts; devised their famous bicycle-friendly transportation system to include tourists; and strictly limited bars and restaurants from taking over Copenhagen.
The question, says Henrik Thierlein, a spokesman for the city’s tourism office, is: “How do you take advantage of the growth in tourism and not be taken over by mass tourism?”