Aarhus. Danish for Progress: En afhandling om erhvervsturisme, innovation og samarbejde i Aarhus

Ida Maria Graff Righolt & Anne Therese Tangsgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


In a time where cities and regions compete for international and interregional investments, high-qualified labor and profile lifting initiatives, marketing strategies are becoming increasingly important. In 2009 the Danish Ministry of Business and Growth and the country’s tourist organization VisitDenmark decided to strengthen the country’s tourism industry by developing a new strategy. The strategy focuses on innovation, networking and business tourism and is, in many ways, innovative itself, as it was developed by more than 600 people within the tourism industry. The strategy has since then formed the foundation of the Danish regions and municipalities’ tourism strategies and has changed the way the country’s tourism industry is structured. ”Aarhus has what the world needs - there is just not enough people who know it.” (Aarhus Kommune A1). This quote stems from the municipality of Aarhus and represents the key idea behind the development of the city’s internationalization strategy. The strategy was implemented in 2011, and its main goal was to attract international, talented stakeholders such as businesses and business tourists. Innovation and collaboration was outlined as the city’s strongest unique selling points and as the most important factors in reaching the city’s goals. Therefore, this way of thinking has and will in the future be an important part of all structures and initiatives in Aarhus. Along with the strategy followed many changes, one of them a new city slogan. The slogan “Aarhus. Danish for progress.” was meant as an advertising statement that should market and profile the city abroad. The new slogan has caused great discussion and disagreement locally in Aarhus and the main problem has been the local people’s reception of the slogan and the fact that they did not seem to understand that the slogan was not, primarily, targeted at them, but at the international business industry. The population’s lack of understanding of their own city’s international branding opportunities creates a challenge for the municipality in changing the city’s overall image as a gathered, strong investment destination. Furthermore, it contradicts one of the city’s unique selling points, namely their collaboration abilities. This specific issue seems to be a recurring theme for the municipality and the tourism bureau VisitAarhus. Another important area where the city seems to neglect the collaborative opportunities is within the meeting market. Even though the Danish Ministry of Business and Growth and VisitDenmark both point at the corporate meeting market as one of the business tourism’s biggest growth area, Aarhus has chosen not to work with these types of meetings. On the contrary, the city wishes to continue working with congresses and conferences, where they have many years of experience and can see a high return on investment. The primary argument for not working with corporate meetings is that the city has poor possibilities to create return on investment, in this particular market. In relation, VisitAarhus calls this prioritization a question of resources and argues that there is no need to broaden their focus as they are already successfully creating growth as it is. This statement collides with the strategy’s general international focus as this means that Aarhus’ primary focus is on the national meeting market. Finally, a contradiction exists between the way Aarhus articulates itself as innovative and the fact that the city refuses to makes use of it in this specific market. To help strengthen their strategy, concrete recommendations are presented in this thesis. The first recommendation is made in regards to the city’s overall branding mistake and the fact that the population has not been considered as an ‘important’ influencer. A proposition in the form of a citizen campaign is made in the hope that this will trigger a more profound anchoring process. Furthermore, recommendations are made in relation to the city’s future handling of the meeting market and the way in which they can create innovation. These are concerned with the cities current work with congresses and conferences and Aarhus’ possibilities to gain market share within the corporate meeting market. To conclude, this thesis creates an overview of the Danish tourism industry and its focus areas, Aarhus’ attempt to internationalize the city, their innovative and collaborative approach as well as an analysis of their challenges, potential and how this potential can be reached.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages107