The government has accused right-wing party Dansk Folkeparti (DF) of ruining Denmark’s international reputation and damaging the country's tourism industry.
The three-prong party government, made up of Socialdemokraterne (S), Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF) and Radikale (R), argued that tourists are forgoing the land of Hans Christian Andersen because of the conservative immigration policies that DF initiated when they were part of the government in the 2000s.
“When we add up what DF has been part of, it’s been detrimental to Denmark’s reputation. We have had discriminating visa regulations and talk of border control which has erased the notion that Denmark is a pleasant, progressive and diverse nation,” Mette Reissmann, S's tourism and consumer spokesperson, told Berlingske newspaper. “Now we are considered a cold and foreigner-sceptical country.”
Marlene Borst Hansen (R) agreed that DF is an “anti-foreigner party”, but added that the blame should also be placed on the shoulders of DF’s government partners at the time.
“Everyone who has contributed to the notion that Denmark is a closed and anti-foreigner country is responsible,” Hansen said. ”DF couldn’t do it alone and Venstre and Konservative also wanted to set up border control, which is a very potent signal to send.”
The number of foreign overnight stays in Denmark has reduced dramatically in recent decades. Since 1992, Danish hotels, hostels and inns have had to wave goodbye to 4.3 million overnight stays, according to figures from industry association Dansk Industri. Particularly German tourists have avoided Denmark recently.
Janne Liburd, a lecturer at Syddansk University and the head of tourism researchers in Denmark, agreed that the policies of the previous government have not helped promote Denmark's image, but he argued that it’s actually steep prices that have scared off tourists.
“There are some underlying problems in Danish tourism which are amplified by how we speak about foreigners. We need to take a serious look at the issue if we want to regain the tourism market and increase growth,” Liburd said.
The party's former head and current values spokesperson, Pia Kjærsgaard, rebuffed any notion that her party was to blame, saying that the government was in a position to do something about the issue and that they were only “humiliating themselves” by blaming DF.
DF's economics spokesperson, Hans Kristian Skibby, called the accusations “absurd” and contended that DF had done much to promote tourism in Denmark, such as pushing for tax reductions on hotel stays and summer houses.
“You can’t take this seriously and you could justly suspect them of eating mushrooms. It’s as far out as anything could be and quite something of a delusion,” Skibby fumed to Berlingske.