Global Destination Sustainability Movement Unveils GDS-Index Criteria Update

27th Feb, 2024

© GDS Awards winners at the GDS & CityDNA Conference 2023 

Twelve new criteria were added, covering climate action, visitor management, short-term tourism rentals, DEI, and more.

The Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS-Movement), a pioneering change agency, committed to fostering regenerative destinations and events globally, is the driving force behind the GDS-Index.

The GDS-Index is a destination-level performance tool that measures, benchmarks, and improves the regenerative strategy and implementation of tourism and events destinations of participating destinations worldwide. Today marks the launch of the 2024 GDS-Index criteria, in preparation for this year's benchmarking season, which is set to commence on the 25th of March, engaging +100 committed destinations across the globe.

The GDS-Index criteria process, guided by the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the GSTC Destination Criteria, underwent a comprehensive, six-month revision process involving a range of interested parties. This involved gathering and analysing feedback with over 650 comments from past and present participating destinations worldwide, partners, the GDS-Movement team, the City DNA Sustainability Knowledge Group of European Destinations, as well as the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) consisting of 15 experts in tourism, academia, and destination sustainability.

Twelve new criteria were added, covering climate action, visitor management, short-term tourism rentals, DEI, and more.

This year, the update introduces 12 new and 28 enhanced criteria, totalling 77 qualitative and quantitative indicators across all four performance categories: environmental, social, supplier, and destination management. The criteria enhancement results in a more rigorous index that measures and prepares destinations for the significant challenges facing the tourism and events industry, including climate change, loss of biodiversity and negative social impacts, all exacerbated by lack of efficient legislations.

To better assess current sustainability performance and future fit strategy, the following sub-categories were improved or introduced: water management, circular economy, short-term tourism rentals, funding mechanisms, resident sentiment, climate action, visitor management, capacity building, mobility, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

"Amidst mounting global challenges, the urgency for faster and smarter responses in tourism is clear. With destinations actively engaging in their sustainability journey, our criteria update reflects a commitment to evolution, addressing emerging issues, and emphasising regeneration. This isn't just about improvement; it's about propelling the industry towards a regenerative future, urgently calling for collective action to change the tourism and events industry to mitigate climate change and accelerate real action on sustainability worldwide," says Guy Bigwood, CEO of the GDS-Movement.

See the full methodology here

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