Valencia has already established itself as a pioneer in this endeavour by completing its carbon footprint and tourism related impact assessments. The next step will be the individual carbon assessment of the local tourist companies and the first pilot will be applied to the Convention Centre (Palacio de Congresos) in a few weeks.
By joining the GDS-Movement and participating in the GDS-Index the destination will reveal its biggest growth indicators and areas for improvement as well as benchmark it against other destinations already on the journey towards becoming thriving examples of what full circle sustainability can achieve for people and the environment.
The Sustainable Tourism Strategy for the city, which began at the beginning of 2020, is committed to achieving carbon-neutral tourism activity by 2025, making Valencia the world’s leading tourist destination with zero environmental impact.
The Councilor of Tourism and president of Visit Valencia, Emiliano García, pointed out that “Valencia has started the path to tourism sustainability with very clear and very ambitious objectives. Our reference project is to become a carbon neutral destination in 2025, and to continue supporting the many social, economic and environmental initiatives underway.”
According to the councilor, “joining the GDS Movement will allow us to evaluate our initiatives, access new tourist knowledge through its methodology, and share the ‘expertise’ that Valencia already has in terms of sustainability so that, together with other destinations and tourism entities, we move forward in favour of more integrated and inclusive tourism”.
Visit Valencia will lead the participation of Valencia in this program, with the collaboration of the City Council and the Chair of the New Green Transition of the University of Valencia. Among the sixty-nine indicators to be evaluated in the GDS-Index (all of which are aligned to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals SDGs), the most significant include sustainable food, sustainability certifications, circular economy initiatives, pollution reduction policies, and accessibility policies.
Given the profile of the parameters that are evaluated, and the necessary cross-sector stakeholder engagement with hotels, airports, event venues and restaurants; the benchmarking exercise is expected to positively guide the destination towards becoming a favoured choice for the MICE sector. GDS-Index Collaborators include such entities as ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) and European Cities Marketing, both long term partners for Visit Valencia. Through this initiative and others, sustainability will continue to offer shared value to all participants in the tourism sector in Valencia.
Garcia believes “Sustainable tourism is incredibly important to the tourism of tomorrow and is one of the biggest travel trends to emerge since the turn of the pandemic. It is vital that the global tourism industry comes together as a whole to address the challenges of the climate emergency as well as the need to recover sustainably after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Valencia’s goal has always been to create an integrated sustainable destination management model that benefits both visitors and citizens thanks to its inclusive stakeholder collaboration and strong leadership.
Guy Bigwood, Managing Director of the GDS Movement, acknowledges the tremendous efforts of Valencia: “Valencia is at the forefront of rethinking tourism and how tourism can be leveraged to great positive impact for visitors, residents and the industry alike. We are delighted to both support Valencia on their sustainability journey and to facilitate the sharing of their expertise within the GDS-Movement”.
Valencia contact details – Jaume Mata – Head of sustainable tourism.