When cruiseship guests, visitors of festivals, and other tourists visit Aarhus during the summer, they are greeted by a record number of volunteers. Donation of funds has made it possible to continue the volunteer program, which was created to support Aarhus as European Capital of Culture in 2017. Subsequently, the program was made a permanent concept, and the number of people joining as volunteers has increased significantly ever since. Today the volunteer program of VisitAarhus counts 1.900 volunteers.
The volunteers in Aarhus are called ReThinkers. One of them is 67-year-old Anne-Mette Weise Pedersen, who has been part of the volunteer program since the very beginning. What motivates her is the team spirit.
“It is the team spirit, the good time together, and all the different experiences we get through the program, which motivates me to be a ReThinker. I am proud of our lovely city, and I always try to give the guests a good, kind and happy greeting, no matter if it’s at the harbor or at one of the many cultural events, in which we as volunteers participate,” she says.
Since last year the number of volunteers in Aarhus has increased from 1.300 to 1.900, corresponding to 50 new volunteers every month. With great smiles and ”ASK ME” badges on their chest, the many ReThinkers greet the cruiseship guests at the harbor and in the city center, as well as assist at sports events, festivals, and other cultural events.
”We are very enthusiastic about the development, which shows that the local residents really want the best for Aarhus, the guests and one another. We invest a lot of energy into creating a framework for the program, which contributes to a strong sense of identity and a positive and engaging community, in order to retain the volunteers. It is great to see how much they get out of it, both in relation to one another and in the meeting with the guests,” the manager of the volunteer program, Ulla Lund, says.
Aarhus is the only city in Europe, where local volunteers greet tourists on such a large scale all year. The effort has a positive effect on the number of visitors in Aarhus. In the VisitDenmark survey ”City tourists in Aarhus”, 69% of the foreign guests indicated “friendliness of locals” as motivation for visiting Aarhus.
”It’s very nice to know, that we make a positive difference to the guests. That’s what we are here for,” Anne-Mette Weise Pedersen says.
About VisitAarhus’ volunteer program: VisitAarhus has a team of 1900 volunteer ReThinkers from the Aarhus area. The volunteer program was initiated in order to manage the increased number of guests in Aarhus during the year of European Capital of Culture, in 2017. Thanks to the donation of funds by Merchant Hermann Sallings Fond, the volunteer program could continue to prosper as a permanent concept under the wings of VisitAarhus. A volunteer program of this size is unique in Europe, and Aarhus is the only city offering volunteer ambassadors at the service of guests and cultural events all year.
About VisitAarhus: The purpose of VisitAarhus is to play an active role in boosting tourism in and around the city of Aarhus as well as to head the overall coordination of marketing activities and product development within the area.
VisitAarhus promotes the Aarhus region nationally as well as internationally including resources from local businesses, institutions and other parties with relations and an interest in tourism as much as possible.