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European Capitals of Smart Tourism

AARHUS - 2023 Shortlisted City

Born from the rich pioneering spirit of the Vikings, Aarhus has emerged as a leader in Danish innovation and modern outlook on all things smart.

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Where the old, meets the new

Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city and is the seat of the Aarhus municipality. It is situated on the eastern shores of Jutland in the Baltic Sea. With an urban population of 355,000, Aarhus is a strong centre of national and international economic growth that places a high priority on being a leading city of knowledge, culture, and education. Aarhus dates back to the 8th century and is one of Denmark’s oldest cities. Even to this day, the city continues to grow in importance with the goal of becoming CO2 neutral by 2030 and being selected to participate by the European Commission in the “100 European Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities 2030” initiative.

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A great place to live, is a great place to visit

Under this motto, the city of Aarhus has engaged a ground up approach to making its city more accessible. As a result, Aarhus has ensured that for residents and visitors alike, the tourism experience is one that is inclusive and open to all. Aarhus boasts strong citizen engagement: its Rethinkers Programme has over 2000 Volunteers to help visitors to the city feel more welcome, and to help with any questions that might arise. They can be found at any cultural event all year round. Aarhus also hosts the KØN – Gender Museum Denmark which presents the rich cultural history between genders, the body, and sexuality.

Viking spirit pushing sustainable tourism

Aarhus wants to become CO2 neutral by 2030 and as a result is one of Europe’s “100 European Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities 2030”. The local tourism organisation VisitAarhus has been designated and certified as a “Green Tourism Organisation”. This means that sustainable development is a key part of the city’s climate strategy. This includes expanding climate-related competencies and including social and economic sustainable goals as a prerequisite for a balanced and climate-friendly growth for tourism. Approximately 70% of the hotels in the city hold a “Green Key” certification, meaning that your stay in the city and a in a certified hotel has a positive impact on the environment.

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Expanding the digital destination

The “DigitalEX – EXPANDING the digital destination” project has the explicit aim of further developing the interaction and engagement with guests to the city before, during, and after their visit. Here the approach is to strengthen the city’s online presence and to work with visitors to generate data and to fuel a constant improvement of the tourism experience. “Smart Aarhus” and its City Lab are a digital test centre for smart city solutions. This results in intelligent traffic control and energy efficient buildings, sustainable forms of transportation and an improved quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

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Rethinking culture in smart tourism

Over the past few years, the city of Aarhus has begun to integrate its cultural offering into the smart tourism experience for visitors. The iconic DOKK1, which is Denmark’s largest library, stands at the centre of the harbour and is a landmark of the waterfront. The open-air museum “Den Gamle By” (The Old Town), is one of Denmark’s biggest tourism attractions and is an accurate representation of how a historic Aarhus looked and felt like with more than 75 historic buildings relocated into the museum giving a glimpse into the past.