Gothenburg tops 2019 Global Destination Sustainability Index

Sydney and Melbourne the only APAC destinations listed in GDS-Index top 10.

Gothenburg has topped the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) for the fourth consecutive year. Released at the 58th ICCA Congress held in Houston, the GDS-Index ranks the sustainability performance of 58 global business tourism and events destinations.

The GDS-Index benchmarks performance across four key areas: city’s environmental strategy and infrastructure; city’s social sustainability performance; industry supplier support; and the destination management organisation’s strategy and initiatives.

While Gothenburg continues to lead (with a score of 89.64 out of a possible 100 points), 2019 GDS-Index results demonstrate that DMOs are taking action, with a 29% increase in terms of overall performance from 2018.

Guy Bigwood, managing director of the GDS-Index, said: “This years results provide positive signs of a global shift in how Destination Management Organisations integrate sustainability into their strategy, value proposal, stewardship and reporting activities.”

He added: “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.” 

New destinations that advanced into the top 10 include Aalborg and Dublin, with significant jumps in performance for Glasgow, Sydney and Zurich.

BESydney was recognised for its outstanding ‘Sustainable Destination Partnership’, a multi-stakeholder collaboration that has resulted in the environmental footprinting of the Sydney hospitality sector, then the co-creation of a strategy to achieve a 70% reduction in carbon emissions and divert 90% of its waste by 2030.

For the first time, the GDS-Index Best Improver Award was presented to a region, with the honours given to 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.

The 2019 GDS Index features many examples of sustainability leadership and best practice from multiple destinations including; Copenhagen, Malmö, Lausanne and Glasgow (strategy), Ireland and Flanders (region programs), Brisbane and Sydney (collaboration and partnerships), Monaco, Lyon and Helsinki (Marketing & Comms) and Gothenburg (Reporting).

Now in its fourth year, the GDS-Index has developed a more demanding set of criteria with stakeholders including the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the Social Progress Imperative and the Events Industry Council. With the help of an external technical advisory board, this process has brought transparency, rigour and additional value to the index.

Increasingly, the GDS Index is being used on a political level to allow local governments to evaluate their progress in sustainability.