International Round-Up: Much improved for travel

Although that is debatable, according to a former fan, Lonely Planet

Denmark is a much improved destination, according to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report compiled by the World Economic Forum, which ranks the country 21st – ten places higher than last year.

Esteemed company
The WEF scored Denmark particularly high for Information and Communication Technology Readiness and Air Transport Infrastructure.

The top ten were Spain, France, Germany, Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.

Copenhagen clogged up
The report swiftly followed a warning from Lonely Planet that a “concentrated inflow of tourists clogging the heart of the city [of Copenhagen] is starting to put a strain on urban life”.

Earlier in the year, the travel guide named the Danish capital as the top city to visit in 2019.

Thomas Cook fallout
In related news, the flights of around 1,400 holiday-bound Danes were cancelled following the bankruptcy of the Thomas Cook travel agency, which owns the prestigious Danish operator Spies. However, Spies remains afloat, and none of its customers have been left out of pocket.

And Villa Copenhagen, located in the old central post office building near Copenhagen Central Station, has been recommended by the London Evening Standard as a eco-friendly hotel to watch out for ahead of its opening next year.

F-16 rebuffs Russian jet
A Danish F-16 fighter jet decorated with the Danish flag ‘Dannebrog’ in honour of the flag’s recent 800-year celebration was deployed to rebuff a Russian spy plane near Danish airspace last week. The Danish Air Force subsequently released some stunning images from the undramatic encounter – an almost unprecedented move.

Busy month for PM
A busy October began for PM Mette Frederiksen with her opening Parliament on October 1. She then met Irish and Italian counterparts Leo Varadkar and Sergio Mattarella on October 4 and 8, with plans to meet French President Emmanuel Macron later in the month. The Crown Prince Couple, meanwhile, have just returned from heading a business delegation to France where they met Macron and Prince Joachim.

Huge wall was planned
Søren Pind, the former minister of justice, has disclosed that the Venstre government considered the erection of a concrete wall with barbed wire near the German border to ward off illegal refugees. “Very precise plans were drawn up” in around 2015, documents his book – claims the then minister of immigration and integration, Inger Støjberg, has refused to confirm.

Well-placed to benefit
Danish research institutes and companies have been granted more than 1 billion euros from Horizon 2020, making the country the program’s second largest beneficiary of the EU research and innovation program. Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Development Progamme, believes Denmark is uniquely equipped to cash in on a more climate-friendly planet.

Substantial aid to Syria
Denmark has donated 180 million kroner in humanitarian aid to UN-backed initiatives to help the plight of Syrian refugees – and an extra 50 million kroner to help stabilise the country, including 30 million for mine clearance.

Putin airs pipeline thoughts
Vladimir Putin believes Denmark needs to think for itself in relation to the placement of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline along its maritime territory, which the Russian president said is going ahead regardless of the country’s acceptance. “Denmark is being subjected to strong pressure,” he told TASS. “Whether it will be able to demonstrate independence and sovereignty depends on itself.”

Opens more doors than most
The Danish passport ranks sixth on Henley & Partners’ list of the world’s most advantageous. Trailing only Japan, Singapore, Germany, Finland and South Korea, the passport allows for visa-free access to 187 countries. Italy, Luxembourg, France, Sweden and Spain completed the top eleven. The worst country was Afghanistan.

Mystery of the ‘Estonia’
Five Danes were among the 852 people who died aboard the ‘Estonia’, a ferry that sank in severe weather in the Baltic in September 1994 on its way from Tallinn to Stockholm, and now a new documentary series will seek to explain why. Only 147 people survived. The series will premiere on TV Norge in the autumn of 2020.

More funds to fight terror
The foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, has confirmed that Denmark will be dedicating more funds to tackling terrorism. Of the 37 million kroner earmarked, most of it will go towards the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s efforts in African countries such as Ethiopia (14 million), Horn of Africa (9) and Mali (14).

Border control crackdown
The EU is finally cracking down on the likes of Denmark for operating temporary border controls. In 2016 and 17, Denmark argued that the controls were necessary to curb migration, and since then it has cited terrorism. But the European Parliament has voted to limit its powers. Austria, Germany, Sweden and Norway have also had dubious controls in operation.

Queen’s invite still open
The queen has confirmed that her invitation to US President Donald Trump to pay a state visit still stands. “Cancellations happen,” she said. “We will have to see if it will happen later. I assume it will be him saying: ‘Now I can make it’, because the invitation still stands.” Trump confirmed on August 20 that he was cancelling a visit to Denmark from September 2-3.

New goals outlined
Denmark has made significant changes to its 2020 development strategy so that it focuses more on the climate, helping people in need in the developing world, and gender equality. Meanwhile, another new strategy aims to improve Danish and EU assistance to vulnerable countries that have endured conflict.