Valencia and Skellefteå: Two More Additions to the GDS-Index

20th Feb, 2021

Pedestrian areas of the Valencia City Council

Valencia's sustainable tourism strategy is setting the course for the destination’s ambitious targets, that include becoming the leaders for carbon measurement in southern Europe. Valencia has already established itself as a pioneer in this endeavour by completing its carbon footprint and tourism related impact assessments. The next step will be the individual carbon assessment of the local tourist companies and the first pilot will be applied to the Convention Centre (Palacio de Congresos) in a few weeks.

By joining the GDS-Movement and participating in the GDS-Index the destination will reveal its biggest growth indicators and areas for improvement as well as benchmark it against other destinations already on the journey towards becoming thriving examples of what full circle sustainability can achieve for people and the environment.

The Sustainable Tourism Strategy for the city, which began at the beginning of 2020, is committed to achieving carbon-neutral tourism activity by 2025, making Valencia the world's leading tourist destination with zero environmental impact.

Valencia filtered water source

Visit Valencia will lead the participation of Valencia in this program, with the collaboration of the City Council and the Chair of the New Green Transition of the University of Valencia. Among the sixty-nine indicators to be evaluated in the GDS-Index (all of which are aligned to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals SDGs), the most significant include sustainable food, sustainability certifications, circular economy initiatives, pollution reduction policies, and accessibility policies.

Given the profile of the parameters that are evaluated, and the necessary cross-sector stakeholder engagement with hotels, airports, event venues and restaurants; the benchmarking exercise is expected to positively guide the destination towards becoming a favoured choice for the MICE sector. GDS-Index Collaborators include such entities as ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) and European Cities  Marketing, both long term partners for Visit Valencia. Through this initiative and others, sustainability will continue to offer shared value to all participants in the tourism sector in Valencia.

Valencia’s goal has always been to create an integrated sustainable destination management model that benefits both visitors and citizens thanks to its inclusive stakeholder collaboration and strong leadership.

Skellefteå will participate in the GDS-Index to benchmark its sustainable tourism and events achievements to date, and to better understand the areas of improvement for future tourism development, ensuring that it represents a thriving destination, attractive to work, live in and visit.

Skellefteå was a Departures Legend Awards honouree, recognised for its approach to urban development that reduces carbon consumption and emissions and is suitable for a growing population. Their focus is on using wood to rebuild. Wood is a renewable and sustainable source of construction material and there is a law that for every tree cut down, two must be planted.

The city already offers many of the great benefits of being a sustainable destination with access to 100% renewable energy, close proximity to nature, and companies at the forefront of recycling, automatization, electrification, and green building techniques. Skellefteå, as part of the EU Region Övre Norrland, also tops the list of EU’s social progress index.

The GDS-Movement emerged out of the need to unite and enable destination management professionals to create flourishing and resilient places to visit, meet and live. The movement provides a suite of tools and services to help destinations map strategies to enable them to become more circular, inclusive and resilient and have greater positive impact on their environment and communities. One of these tools is the GDS-Index.

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