Herning challenging capital as host of Eurovision 2014

While the host city of next year’s Eurovision will reap a financial windfall, state broadcaster DR will have to shell out an as-yet-unknown sum to put on the event

Emmelie de Forest trounced the opposition at last week’s Eurovision Song Contest, earning Denmark its second title of the 21st century and bringing the competition back to Danish soil in 2014.

Not all countries have been happy to host the costly Eurovision competition, however, and some countries such as Portugal did not enter this year out of fear they would be unable to live up to the financial obligations of hosting the competition if they won.

Denmark, however, is keen to play host again after the competition it hosted in 2001 earned it 117 million kroner, according to analysis by the tourism agencies Visit Denmark and Wonderful Copenhagen.

“There is no doubt that the victory will see an increase in both the turnovers and the personnel of Danish restaurants and hotels, while the transport and retail sectors will also benefit from all the Eurovision guests, ” Susan Nordenbæk, a chief consultant for business lobby group Dansk Erhverv, told financial daily Børsen. “The event will also be an effective means to advertise Denmark as a modern and attractive tourist destination.”

According to Visit Denmark, a TV audience of 125 million viewers for next year’s competition could translate into advertising revenue alone of 160 million kroner.

But whose hotels and restaurants will benefit from the thousands of extra tourists Eurovision promises?

Currently the competition is between Copenhagen, which hosted the 2001 event at Parken, which was watched by a record live audience of 35,000, and Herning in Jutland, which has successfully held large events such as the X Factor Final at its 15,000 capacity Jyske Bank Boxen.

MP Pia Kjærsgaard (Dansk Folkeparti) wrote on Facebook that she thought it would be a shame if the competition was again hosted by Copenhagen.

“I think we need to show Europe and the rest of the world that Denmark has more to offer than Copenhagen," she said. "That’s why Herning in my opinion would be a perfect place for the finals of Eurovision 2014.”

Lars Hajslund, the managing director of tourism agency Visit Herning, also spoke of the benefit of bringing the event to his town.

“It’s fantastic for Denmark, and it would give Herning a perfect opportunity to show what we are best at: namely hosting large experiences,” Hajslund told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “It would have a considerable impact on tourism for the whole region.”

Not everyone agrees that Denmark would be best served hosting the event outside Copenhagen, which in recent years has proven itself capable of hosting large events like the 2009 UN climate conference (COP15), the 2011 UCI Road World Championships, the 2009 IOC Congress, the 2009 World Outgames, and the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards.

“We are an international metropolis and the country’s capital, which is why it makes sense that we host it,” Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for culture and recreation, Pia Allerslev (Venstre), told Politiken newspaper. “Unfortunately our Copenhagen Arena is not yet ready, as it would have been the perfect venue, but we do have Parken where we held an excellent show in 2001, so it could probably be possible to repeat the success.”

Wonderful Copenhagen also stated that the city has never been more ready to host such a large event.

“The city’s brand has never been better, and we are experiencing massive international interest in our lifestyle, the Nordic kitchen, architecture and our bicycle culture,” Lars Bernhard Jørgensen, the managing director of Wonderful Copenhagen, wrote in a press release.

State broadcaster DR will be responsible for hosting the event, and cultural editor Morten Hesseldahl said that it will ensure that Eurovision has an impact on the whole country.

“It’s vital that it’s not just the final and semi-finals that steal all the focus, but that other activities are started that can stimulate music across the country, which could drive other cultural activities,” Hesseldahl told Politiken.

Given the expense of putting on the show, there are concerns that the state broadcaster would also have to make cuts to the rest of its programming, although DR’s director general, Maria Rørbye Rønn, promised DR would minimise the impact.

“We will work hard to ensure that viewers and listeners won’t notice it in the daily programming,” Rønn told DR News, adding that it would be some time before the cost of the show is calculated.

“We have to start the planning process to both determine our ambitions and where it is going to be held because those two things will end up influencing the total price of the show,” she said, adding that no decisions had yet been made about which city would host the finals.

“It’s a very large event that can lift our nation,” Rønn said. “It also gives us an opportunity to put Denmark on the map, and it’s also important because it gives Europeans the opportunity to gather around something other than politics. Music is without borders, and I think that’s important to remember.”