Forested hills, fords, modern architecture, state-of-the-art museums, nature, and wildlife – abundant Vejle, Denmark, now offers a new attraction – its participation in the GDS-Index.
The GDS-Index is an independent, 3rd-party evaluation of a destination’s environmental, social, supplier, and destination management performance. Its benchmark serves to rank global destinations based on their sustainability performance, share best practices to inspire productive change, and stimulate collaboration and healthy competition.
The riverside Danish destination, championed by VisitVejle, is emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic with a focus on its sustainability practices to help it bounce back stronger and develop more resilience.
It invests in a wide range of efforts:
– Its municipality-initiated 2020-2024 biodiversity strategy encompassing a network spanning various administrations to encourage awareness, knowledge exchange, and collaboration.
– Its municipal business service, Vejle Erhverv, includes a team called De Grønne Erhvervsguider (the green Business Guides) to support and offer consultations regarding CO2 reductions. The service also supports sustainability innovation in the HORECA* industry with a culinary institute exploring plant-based food and innovation.
– To deepen its positive impacts, VisitVejle initiated the Grøn Destination Vejle (Green Destination Vejle) project, which supports tourism businesses in their sustainability transition. It also encourages and engages tourists to develop views and behaviours that support these endeavours.
– The project Gentænk Kulturturismen (Rethink Cultural Tourism, initiated in partnership with Destination Trekantområdet), aims at creating more valuable and valued cultural experiences year-round, so expanding the season.
– VisitVejle and MeetingVejle hold a Green Tourism Organization certification from the industry association, HORESTA, and collaborate with Erhvervshus Sydjylland for business networking and workshops. The MeetingVejle website lists venues with relevant sustainability icons including Green Key and the UN SDGs to help clients find venues making concerted efforts.
Its team looks forward to being empowered by the benchmarking process, which includes bespoke recommendations and relevant case studies based on results.
“We would like to get more insights into our work and improvement opportunities through the GDS-Index data, use the data to show our networks how we work, and inspire them to work with sustainability strategically. We would also like to achieve more international exposure which would benefit our meeting and conference tourism.
“The GDS index will improve our future policy development and ability to collaborate with other administrations in Vejle Kommune. It will strengthen our knowledge and improve our cooperation with local businesses. The participation might also influence the political support in the city council as well as potentially secure further funding for our work on sustainable and regenerative tourism.”
As the city refines its efforts and aligns its actions, partnership is a key ingredient.
“In our work developing a new strategy for VisitVejle we decided to create a dedicated strategy document to focus on sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Maria Stilund Sommer, VisitVejle Tourism and team leader.
“We view our participation in the GDS-Index and the GDS Movement as a natural part of our sustainability journey and efforts regarding SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals. We look forward to focusing and accelerating our work even more in the coming years!”
GDS-Movement welcomes Vejle with open arms.
“There’s a huge opportunity for Vejle’s tourism and events industry to empower business and leisure visitors and residents to thrive through destination stewardship,” says Chief Changemaker, Guy Bigwood, “and we are so glad that Vejle sees the potential in co-creating measurable strategies and actions that leave a legacy of positive impact.”
* HORECA (also HORECA or HoReCa) is an acronym for “Hotels, Restaurants, and Catering”, or “Hotels, Restaurants & Cafes (in Dutch)”.