IBTM World, Barcelona, Spain — 28 November
GDS-Movement is delighted to reveal that the city of Bruges, Belgium, has been selected as the host city for the 2024 GDS-Forum. Known for its commitment to quality, sustainability, and innovation, Bruges offers a unique backdrop for this influential annual event.
Bruges boasts a rich history and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is at the forefront of sustainable initiatives, exemplified by its “Zorgen voor Morgen” (Taking care of tomorrow) programme. This initiative engages residents and businesses in a crowd-sourced climate plan, focusing on green space expansion, urban permeability for water management, and climate-neutral food strategies.
In the realm of sustainable mobility, Bruges has installed 60 public charging points since 2017, with an additional 2 public DC-fast-charging points added in 2020. The city is also dedicated to fostering food sustainability through the “Brugge Smaakt” food strategy, promoting local, climate-neutral food production.
The city’s commitment to accessibility is evident in its comprehensive guide for visitors and residents alike. Moreover, Bruges is serious about reducing negative impacts from meetings, as demonstrated by the Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC) holding both the M+ accessibility label and the Green Key sustainability label.
Bruges follows a four-leaf clover model in its policy program, aligning with four United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This approach positions Bruges as an ideal host for the GDS-Forum, 15 – 19 October 2024, which emphasises continual effort and radical collaboration.
GDS-Forum, an annual “un-conference” event, powered by the Global Destination Sustainability Movement and CityDNA, aims to transform tourism by bringing professionals together. This event explores regeneration in business and leisure tourism, events, and destination management. It champions individuals driving positive change in the face of a climate-disrupted world. GDS-Forum is co-located with the annual CityDNA Autumn Conference that takes place directly after it, offering attendees an enriching week with incredible networking opportunities.
Guy Bigwood, CEO and Chief Changemaker, GDS-Movement, says:
“I am thrilled to bring the GDS-Forum to Bruges, a pioneer in responsible tourism. Together, we will convene destination leaders and sustainability champions from around the world in a fun and unconventional gathering to discuss sustainability and impact strategies and best practices, and co-create new approaches and initiatives for greater regenerative destination management. It follows a non-conference format with a focus on how to use tourism and events to regenerate ecosystem health, foster social inclusivity, cherish cultural heritage, and uphold local economic sustainability.
Dirk De fauw, Bruges Mayor, says:
“I am pleased and honoured that we could bring the congress and the forum to Bruges. This demonstrates the association’s appreciation and trust, of which Visit Bruges has been an active member since 2006. The concerted efforts of our convention bureau have paid off! This presents a unique opportunity to showcase the strengths of our city as a sustainable convention destination to industry professionals.”
Dieter Dewulf, Visit Bruges Tourism manager-director, and former CityDNA board member, says:
“In developing our tourism strategy, it’s crucial to gain external perspectives. We derive significant inspiration from our international connections and actively implement these insights. Thus, welcoming my European tourism colleagues to Bruges, albeit not for the first time for many, is a privilege.”
Mieke Hoste, Councilor for Tourism, Bruges, says:
“Tourism is a vital part of Bruges’ economy and a key focus for the Visit Bruges Convention Bureau. We proactively seek out congresses related to this theme. The economic impact of such events is substantial. We anticipate this congress will generate approximately 1,250 overnight stays in Bruges, providing a significant boost to our accommodation sector, especially during the typically quieter midweek. Notably, a delegate attending a residential congress tends to spend twice as much as a recreational overnight tourist.”
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Images courtesy of Visit Bruges | © Jan Darthet