Gothenburg tops 2019 Global Destination Sustainability Index for fourth year

Gothenburg has topped the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) for the fourth year running. The GDS-Index is the ranking of the sustainability performance of 50 global business tourism and events destinations.

Ireland was recognised as the most improved destination and Glasgow made a significant jump in performance in the fourth edition of the rankings, which were unveiled at the closing ceremony of the 58th ICCA Congress held in Houston.

With a score of 89.64 out of a possible 100 points, and with a 7 per cent improvement from last year, Gothenburg received the 2019 GDS-Index Leadership Award.

Annika Hallman, director at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, said: “The GDS-Index has been a powerful lever in our sustainability work. It has helped us to improve performance and inspire others to become more sustainable. We have lectured and received study visits from other cities and used our top position to drive the sustainable development of the global meeting industry, as well as strengthening Gothenburg’s profile as a leading congress and convention destination.”

The 2019 GDS-Index results demonstrate that destination management organisations (DMOs) are taking action on sustainability with a 29 per cent increase in terms of overall performance from 2018. New destinations that advanced into the top 10 included Aalborg and Dublin, with significant jumps in performance for Glasgow, Sydney and Zurich.

The 2019 GDS-Index Awards were announced simultaneously to honour the sustainability performance, innovation and improvement of the destinations.

The judging panel, made up of six industry experts, selected Sydney to win the GDS-Index Innovation Award for its “Sustainable Destination Partnership”; a multi-stakeholder collaboration that has resulted in the environmental foot-printing of the Sydney hospitality sector, then the co-creation of a pioneering strategy to achieve a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and divert 90 per cent of its waste by 2030. The jury was also impressed by the joint second place projects presented by Wonderful Copenhagen for its Stakeholder Engagement programme and the Green Supply Chains initiative of Ljubljana Tourism.

For the first time, the GDS-Index Best Improver Award was presented to a region, with the honours being installed on the Meet in Ireland Partnership representing Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Kerry. They joined the GDS-Index in 2018 with a vision to collaborate and improve destination sustainability as a region. Aalborg and Ljubljana also made major performance and ranking jumps.

Paul Mockler, head of commercial development at Fáilte Ireland, said: “We invest in the sustainable development of tourism across the country to ensure that communities nationwide can benefit from the social and economic impact tourism brings to Ireland. We are delighted to see our investment in sustainable practices across our conventions bureaux in Dublin and the regions being recognised with this special merit award. We are at that start of our journey to become recognised as a world leading sustainable destination and look forward to further exciting developments in the coming months.”

Guy Bigwood, MD of the GDS-Index, said: “This year’s results provide positive signs of a global shift in how DMOs integrate sustainability into their strategy, value proposal, stewardship and reporting activities. The results also highlight the need for DMOs to get much better at developing an inspiring vision of change, engaging their stakeholders and managing resources to implement and measure social impact for their communities and visitors.”

The top 20 destinations in this year’s GDS-Index are:

1. Gothenburg
2. Copenhagen
3. Zurich
4. Glasgow
5. Aalborg
6. Reykjavik
7. Malmö
8. Sydney
9. Uppsala
10. Melbourne
11. Dublin
12. Stockholm
13. Aarhus
14. Lausanne-Montreux
15. Galway
16. Brussels
17. Ljubljana
18. Oslo
19. Helsinki
20. Kerry

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