Towards a sustainable visitor economy for the city

Sustainability is an increasing concern for our members. With the growing environmental and social pressures facing cities, we need greater action and collaboration to accelerate the development of more sustainable destinations.

The GDS-Academy was launched in June 2021 to deliver the latest, progressive perspectives, teaching and practical application that will catalyse the mindsets and skills sets of DMO professionals, organisations and their partners. The ultimate goal of the GDS-Academy is to enable positive social, environmental and economic regeneration through tourism and events based on a refreshed understanding of what it takes for a sector to thrive.

By using regenerative frameworks and fostering networking and collaboration the GDS-Academy will bring much needed new learning to enable destination professionals to adapt to the ever- evolving conditions brought upon by massive shifts in the sector so deeply affected by the global pandemic.

The GDS-Academy offers education as open-enrolment online classes for professionals, and online/hybrid learning for organisations and destinations. The two initial formats are:

• The GDS-ICCA-CityDNA Certificate in Regenerative Destination Management. This powerful 16-week learning journey is designed to help experienced Destination Professionals to rethink, reimagine and redesign their destination’s tourism and events strategy.

• Masterclasses are 3-4 session action focused, deep-dive learning experiences created to enhance skills and capacity in various critical subjects. The initial 4 masterclasses are Impact Strategy and Measurement, Planning for Recovery and Resilience, Regenerative Event Management and Storytelling for Regeneration. Our Masterclasses are delivered in partnership with our education partners Travel Foundation and #MEET4IMPACT.

The faculty are experts in sustainable destination management and thought leaders in regenerative management practices. Together they facilitate dynamic learning experiences that accelerates professional growth using design thinking processes that are immersive, engaging and fun.

The GDS-Academy is brought to you as a dynamic collaboration with ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) and CityDNA (City Destinations Alliance) who are the strategic and certificate partners.

GDS-ICCA-CityDNA Certificate in Regenerative Destination Management: September 1, 2022 – December 15, 2022

Storytelling and Communication Strategies for Regeneration:  March 24, 2022 – April 21, 2022

The Global Destination Sustainability Index’s Whitepaper highlights trends and strategies undertaken by 47 leading cities to become regenerative hubs for economic, social and environmental development.

At the European Cities Marking Conference in June 2019, the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) released their third Whitepaper that details the case studies, data analysis and the actions taken by 47 Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and municipalities to become destinations of choice for meetings, events and business tourism.

The whitepaper defines six converging mega trends that present destinations and the Event Industry with opportunities to improve their performance and adapt to the risks presented by climate breakdown, ecocide, demographic shifts, social change and digitalisation.

It highlights four fundamental building blocks for DMOs to become sustainable destination stewards and changemakers and defines eight tactics on how destinations can integrate sustainability into their core strategy and become leaders in future-oriented collaboration.

The GDS-Movement unites and enables destination management professionals to create flourishing and resilient places to visit, meet and live in. Its mission is to co-create sustainable and circular strategies, mindsets and skills sets that will enable destinations of the future to thrive, and society and nature to regenarate.

The GDS-Index is the leading sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme for destinations around the world. It is used to assess current social and environmental performance of a destination, and then to drive improved performance. It is a powerful tool for clients to assess the sustainability of destinations to visit or meet in.

Since 2017, City Destinations Alliance is a partner of the GDS-Movement together with ICCAICCA’s Scandinavian ChapterIMEXMCI Group and GuBi.

We support the GDS-Movement to engage with convention, leisure and city marketing professionals, and facilitate the communication and collaboration between cities to improve the sustainability of their destinations.

Currently 47 cities in 5 continents have joined the GDS-Movement and are participating in all processes which aim to:

  • Benchmark the sustainability of their destinations and their meeting and events industry
  • Implement and improve the strategies of their Destination Management Organizations (DMO)
  • Promote their responsible business initiatives and best practices to their clients, peers and other key stakeholders
  • Engage and inspire clients to prize destinations with solid event sustainability initiatives