The GDS-Index is a destination-level programme that measures, benchmarks, and improves the sustainability strategy and performance of tourism and events destinations.
We gather evidence of individual destinations’ sustainability contributions and score them against a set of strict criteria which is part of a vetted, updated methodology. 100 destinations participated this year.
in 2023, the data from our indicators identified 6 key trends for sustainability in tourism and events.
1. Increasing integration into climate strategies
85% of all cities have a climate mitigation and adaptation strategy. While this is an increasing trend, only 33% of cities have integrated tourism and events into their climate strategies. It remains a key priority and a game-changing step for destination management organisations (DMOs)to become an integrated part of their city’s response to climate change.
2. Wider stakeholder engagement
Destinations are getting better at engaging with stakeholders, yet there is a need to enhance multi-stakeholder collaboration. Presently, only 35% of destinations engage with a comprehensive range of stakeholders encompassing industry, clients, government, and the community. Of the new destinations, 55% are engaging stakeholders in their strategies, whereas this number is 95% among the returning destinations.
3. Growing third-party certification
Index data reveals that certification is gaining significant traction worldwide. Certification rates for hotel rooms vary across regions: the Nordic region averages at 70%, Western Europe at 28%, Asian Pacific destinations at 15%, and North American (including many Canadian) destinations at 32%. Venues are leading the change. In Nordic destinations, 84% of venues are certified, followed by 71% in the Asia Pacific, 46% in Western Europe, and 14% in Eastern Europe.
4. Formalising social impact strategies
Over the past year, there has been an increase in Convention Bureaus formalising their social impact strategies. Leading destinations with well-integrated business events and tourism master plans, coupled with clear sustainability strategies, have been at the forefront of this transition. 44% of cities are facilitating partnerships to help clients generate a long-term, positive impact and legacy in the destination.
5. Increasing focus on diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI)
There has been a focus on DEI issues in 2023, especially in North America. 47% of destinations now have an action plan for DEI. Of the top 40, 75% of cities have DEI policies and initiatives. Overall, 48% run internal training courses and 35% run external training courses. In 2022, these figures were 32% and 25% respectively.
6. Greater storytelling
53% of destinations are talking about their sustainability efforts and strategies via their websites. Advanced destinations are getting better at telling stories that engage and move audiences. They are creating experiences and senses of place and space based on data that bring their destination’s commitments and efforts to life. Newcomers can follow their example and create compelling stories of change and optimism.
- Find out more by downloading the full report here