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Strategy is sustainability’s superpower and the key to successful change

Strategy is sustainability’s superpower and the key to successful change

Tourism for leisure and business can play a more active part in regenerating people and place while pursuing (and reviewing) profit if it has an integrated, balanced and living strategy that supports (bio)diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Does it feel like time is speeding up? In an era of climate chaos, the world’s focus is on climate change mitigation. GDS-Movement challenges you to reframe this because #NetZeroisNotEnough.

No matter what number we achieve in carbon emissions reduction by 2030, the latest IPCC Report emphasises that some increase in global temperature is locked in and certain change is irreversible. This poses a problem for our species and our industry.

Humanity’s real problem

On a warmer planet that this past human activity bequeaths, poverty and migration increase with increased droughts, floods, storms and concomitant mass migration, the corals continue bleaching, and beautiful coastal destinations are still swallowed by sea level rise. Is it safe to, can you afford to, do you still want to take a carbon-belching jet to that exotic island getaway for your annual team-building retreat? Regardless of your political opinion on the subject, a fragmentary world economy and a diversity of leadership styles limits global commitment, and carbon offsets are certainly not enough to halt climate change.

Another debate that dilutes the true discourse around sustainable human presence on earth is the “self / institution” argument. Without cohesive regulation, companies and collectives can pass the onus to the individual, and the individual, overwhelmed at trying to solve systemic problems in isolation, gives up, numbs out, shuts down and blames government. It’s a veritable “us versus them”. It’s polarised, rudely reductionist; it lands us in the mental paradigm of helplessness, when our very essence is hope.

Hope is a good start, but it’s values that drive us, day in, day out. To turn values into the action that brings needed change in an integrated and lasting way, we need to use the universal key to unlock potential and drive change within, for individuals, institutions, and the systems these support. That key is strategy.

Tourism for leisure and business can play a more active part in regenerating people and place while pursuing (and reviewing) profit if it has an integrated, balanced, and living strategy that supports (bio)diversity, equity, and inclusion.

How’s your DMO / CVB / Bureau strategy, really?

Our work, benchmarking destination over the last 10 years, has demonstrated that good tourism strategy transforms. This year, the GDS-Index results which we will launch on the 26th October, highlight an increase in cities stepping up and co-creating great strategies. However, we still see DMOs underestimating their power and potential to set clear goals and define targets that really catalyse societal impact and long-term change.

We are proud to have enabled over 78 DMOs (and counting) DMOs to co-create and improve their vision and strategy, develop teams with absolute buy-in, engage stakeholders towards total market integration, communicate efforts, share learnings, and celebrate achievement and planet-protecting growth.

The Geneva Tourism strategy is a good example of a DMO taking a leadership role in a city to bring together stakeholders, align with an urban development agenda, and work hard to catalyse change. We helped the team co-create this policy and change manifesto over the last year, and are excited to see it being launched at the Geneva Tourism Days event 2021.

We look forward to the collective challenges ahead by celebrating the brave and bold DMO leaders who have the courage to challenge the status quo over the years. They are key to driving a sustainability agenda into their destinations’ brand and experience. We applaud the good work done by Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Berlin, Barcelona, Reykjavik, Sydney, Thailand and many more in the GDS-Movement. You have made a difference and our industry should be grateful. We are.

In the words of the freshest, innovation brand we know:


The future is Fibonacci, and we believe in supporting positive cycles in nature, society, and economy that support us. Together we can transform the tourism and business events industry so that visitors can leave a place better than they found it.

Contact us and let’s start the conversation.

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