Summiteers Drive Away Danes, to Businessmen’s Annoyance
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Not only are delegates at a poverty summit staying out of restaurants and night clubs, they’re even driving away Danes. And businesses don’t like it.
``This summit’s a huge flop,″ said John Lindbom, manager of the Radio-Codan cab company. His company kept extra cars ready for the weeklong U.N. meeting. But to no avail.
``We have less to do than usual, since Danish businessmen are staying away from town because of the conference,″ Lindbom said.
Empty tourist buses have idled outside the summit site, waiting in vain for delegates to visit Denmark’s renowned welfare institutions.
Copenhagen’s many restaurants and bars, normally closed by midnight, have stayed open later. But most report empty chairs.
Taxis and escort services complain about a lack of customers, even though the World Summit for Social Development has attracted some 14,000 extra people to the Danish capital.
``It’s a combination of too high expectations and the fact that many Danes are staying home during the summit,″ said Lars Berhard Joergensen of the Wonderful Copenhagen tourist office.
The city estimates that delegates will spend up to $50 million before the conference ends Sunday with a summit of some 120 world leaders.
Delegates seem to be too busy to eat out, according to Joergensen. His office has recorded an increase in hotel room service.
``They spend their evenings working and eating in their hotel rooms,″ he said.
English-language advertising for strip joints and escort services have failed to draw customers.
``We had six summit guys at our morning show,″ said Anne Marie Hjorth, from the Wonder Bar striptease club. ``That’s the best it’s got this week.″
Although many hotels in downtown Copenhagen are full, others are sealed off by police to protect delegates, effectively preventing call girls from plying their trade.
``We can’t work at some hotels because of the security,″ said a woman from the VIP Escort Agency, who would not give her name. ``And other hotels that we normally use are booked up.″
Even the possibility of seeing a practical example of advanced social development _ the subject of the 193-nation gathering _ doesn’t seem to interest delegates.
The Social Affairs Ministry was forced to cancel half of 400 tours to hospitals, schools and other public institutions, organized for the summit of 9,000 delegates.
``There were far too few participants,″ said organizer Ulla Broen. ``Sometimes we had two or three delegates in a bus designed for 60 people.″
The entertainment business is hoping for more action at the weekend when world leaders hit town.
``I’m certain things will pick up tomorrow,″ said Hjorth from the strip joint.
The famed Tivoli amusement park hopes so too. Normally closed during winter, it will open briefly, giving free access to some 10,000 accredited summit guests.
But, once again, locals may be frightened off. They’re being asked to fork over $10, double the normal entry fee.