Not a “Coke and Chips” Holiday: Museums in Danish Coastal Tourism

Not a “Coke and Chips” Holiday: Museums in Danish Coastal Tourism

Barbora Gulisova, Lulu Anne Hansen
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3115-0.ch012
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This chapter, from a historical anthropological perspective, discusses the role of heritage museums in Danish coastal tourism. It is argued that the museum experience is highly contextual making it necessary to understand how place specific heritage interacts with tourist holiday motivations and museums understanding of their role as heritage suppliers. The interplay of these factors must be understood to create better bonds between museums and visitors especially in a tourism context. In order to do this, new questions must be asked, and research should move away from binary understandings of demand and supply.
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In 2016(a) a report from VisitDenmark acknowledged that German tourists do not know much about Danish history and culture, and that there is a need to attract them to the cultural offer already existing. At the same time, the report proposed connecting culture to nature and the wide beaches, which are what the tourists love about Denmark. Another study found that the number of tourists actually using cultural offers during their holiday is higher than the number of tourists stating culture as their motivation for visiting the country (VisitDenmark, 2016b). Such numbers can, although perhaps not surprising, seem puzzling. It constitutes a contradiction between travel motivation and holiday choice of activities.

The mentioned report stated that there are more overnight stays in coastal Denmark than Copenhagen, but 57% of the tourists in Copenhagen can be defined as cultural tourists, while this is the case for only 24-39% of the visitors in the rest of the country. Moreover, in the capital region 56% of museum visitors are international, while only 8% and 4% of the museum visitors in Midtjylland and Nordjylland, respectively, are international. There are big differences between the museums, depending on their marketing and displays. According to the report by VisitDenmark (2016a), 22% of the international nights taken in Denmark in 2014 were on the West coast, where Ringkøbing-Skjern museum and Sydvestjyske museer have a high proportion of international visitors, mostly thanks to Bork Vikingehavn (83%; part of the Ringkøbing Skjern Museum) and Ribes Vikinger (55%; part of the Sydvestjyske Museer), respectively. Also, VisitDenmark (2016b)’s report states that while the coastal and natural tourists belong to the non-cultural category, not motivated by learning about culture and history many museums in the area have a high number of international visitors. They therefore advocate that the museums could play an important role when tourists are in the area and need to find activities to do, some experiences to have. The intention here is, therefore, to gain a better understanding of the question at hand. An historical and anthropological approach was chosen to shed light on previously unrecognized aspects of the role of museums in Danish Coastal destination.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Heritage Tourism: tourism where interest in heritage and heritage sites is a travel motive.

Heritage: What is being perceived as important and valuable historical knowledge by different communities.

Coastal Tourism: Tourist activities that geographically take place within a coastal zone.

Museum: A public or private institution dedicated to a goal of collecting historical objects, knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. It includes both public and privately funded activities.

Education: The activity of learning or adding to personal knowledge and skills.

Landscape: The visible features of a land whether untouched by man or created by and in interaction with man.

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