The Fehmarnbelt Region: Releasing the potential of one of Europe’s most attractive growth destinations

Sep 29, 2019 | Tourism & Culture

The Fehmarnbelt region has a rich and diverse touristic product that holds the potential to be one of Europe’s most attractive growth destinations for both leisure and business tourism.

That is the overall conclusion of a series of SWOT analysis conducted among the tourism industry leaders in the five STRING partner regions; Region Skåne in Sweden, Capital Region and Region Zealand in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg in Germany.  Asking the professionals about their thoughts on  the Fehmarnbelt Region is a part of an extensive study, “Building Tourism”, which is initiated by Femern A/S, STRING, Copenhagen Municipality and Hamburg.

The report continues: “Not only does the region encompass three different national states, it also spans many different sub-regions, each one with its own cultural hallmarks, natural beauties and competitive business clusters. The sea is the forces that has bound it all together – from Hamburg and Lübeck , over the region’s vast and beautiful coast lines to Copenhagen and Malmö. Soon also a modern infrastructure will bind the region further together, and unfold a big potential for growth”.

There is however a slight concern amongst the tourism leaders that thethe Fehmarn tunnel could turn the region into a transit corridor rather than an attractive tourist destination in itself.. The analysis shows that there are major challenges that need to be addressed for the potential growth to unfold, and for the region to become Northern Europe’s most attractive tourism destination:

1) Over-dependency on domestic markets: For the whole of the Fehmarnbelt region (with the exception of Copenhagen) there is an over-dependency on the domestic markets and a few other nearby markets. Even Hamburg with a booming tourism industry has failed to internationalise its tourism visitor portfolio.

2) High seasonality: The percentage of leisure bed nights is considerably higher than number. of MICE (Business tourism) bed nights overall in the region. At the same time there is a high seasonality dependency (with the exceptions of the Metropolises) due to the leisure product predominantly being based on recreational and beach resort tourism products – this in a region with considerable unstable weather conditions.

3) Low quality product: In addition, the leisure tourism products (particularly outside the metropolises) are quite fragmented with few internationally well- known landmarks, and (in areas) of a low standard.




When comparing the region, we find some surprising figures that determine the potential and the importance of the sector in the economies in the corridor from Hamburg to the Øresund region:

The Fehmarnbelt Region had 59 million bed nights in 2011, surpassing The Canaries (58 million), London (56 million) and Paris (35 million).

The Fehmarn Belt tourism volume increased by 16 % and the international tourism by 31 % during 2004-11. Hamburg has had an extraordinary growth of 7,2 % in average in the period

The tourism leaders also points out where joint efforts in the region, that has a population of 8,3 million people, could be beneficial for the future development of the tourism industry. Therein lays an opportunity for product development by building and expanding tourism products where the region possesses strong products/clusters that have a demographic advantage and where there is an obvious field for close cooperation.

This could be in the fields of:

1) Health and wellness tourism, particularly strong and sought after in Germany;

2) Event development, using the existing platforms (e.g. food, fashion, music) to create joint/cross-border events. The Öresund region in particular holds a strong position and experience within event development, and also Hamburg;

3) Cultural heritage tourism , using e.g. the Viking or maritime themes,  music/musicals themes  or the monarchies;

4) Technical visits, focusing on green growth and sustainability;

5) Active tourism, taking advantages of the recreational and nature/wildlife possibilities (e.g. biking, watersports, hiking);

6) Culinary tourism, local/regional produce, “New Nordic Food”.

The “Building Tourism” project will result in a coherent report in the summer of 2013 – including a catalogue of ideas for developing the tourism – both the “internal” tourism between the Øresund region and North Germany, but also developing suggestions for events, attractions and strategies for a new and internationally competitive destination comprising of Skåne, Zealand and North Germany, including two very strong metropol destinations, Copenhagen and Hamburg.

You can follow the “Building Tourism”project and see the mentioned reports by clicking on the links on your right hand side.

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