Copenhagen’s New Sustainability Push? Free Coffee for Tourists.

Wonderful Copenhagen, Denmark’s tourism office, is launching a pilot program called CopenPay, which rewards visitors for going green. Starting July 15, participants who engage in sustainable activities will earn a gift of appreciation from two dozen participating businesses and institutions. The program is open to visitors and locals and includes activities such as collecting plastic trash, turning it into jellyfish art, riding a bike or taking public transportation to the Amager Resource Center, volunteering at Oens Have, northern Europe’s largest urban garden, or the historic garden at the Karen Blixen Museum.

The program is based on the honor system, with some venues asking for proof, such as a photo of your bike or a public transportation ticket. It will run through Aug. 11 and could return next summer with more activities and a longer stretch of time.

Destinations around the world are experimenting with creative ways to promote environmental responsibility and engage visitors in their cause. For example, the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program offers hotel discounts or free nights by volunteering. In 2017, Palau instituted the Palau Pledge, which tourists must sign upon entering the country. Hotels are also incentivizing guests to reduce their consumption, with properties affiliated with the Yotel’s “Purple Goes Green” plan offering food and beverage credit for every day they opt out of housekeeping.

Randy Durband, chief executive of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, applauds programs that reward good behavior instead of guilting people into acting responsibly or scolding them for falling short. Wonderful Copenhagen sees CopenPlay as an agent of change, hoping visitors will feel inspired to make more conscious choices about green actions when they go home.

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