At the European Cities Marking Conference, 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.

Trends, strategies and tactics from 47 cities

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.

Collaboration by major meetings industry organisations

According to MCI’s CEO Sébastien Tondeur, “Scientific predictions about the rate and effect of human impact on climate and our living planet are increasing in certainty and accuracy. As an industry we need to step up, scale up and speed up our sustainability efforts. Destinations are key to the transformation of our industry, and the GDS-Index is an important catalyst helping them transform.”

Petra Stusek, ECM President, comments that, “Destination Management Organisations are evolving into destination stewards and changemakers. They are progressively taking a bigger role in accelerating their city’s sustainable development plan. Through this report the GDS-index is sharing best practice and pieces of wisdom with the ultimate goal of supporting other destinations to focus on sustainable growth.”

Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA, comments: “ICCA is proud to provide strategic support to the GDS-Index and contribute to the ever-growing sustainability of the global meetings industry. Alongside our global community of member-suppliers and international associations, we continuously seek to ensure every aspect of our strategic planning, events and general activities strongly adheres to and promotes best practices in sustainability.”

Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, mentions that “the economic, social and environmental significance of the Events Industry is massive. We could influence safe and fair working conditions for 26 million jobs, direct $1.5 trillion USD towards more responsible supply chains, and inspire 1.5 billion participants to action. Our industry has a decisive role in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable

Development Agenda and its 17 SDGs. The next couple of years represent a serous tipping point for us

all - and for the generations to come.”

Guy Bigwood, Managing Director of the GDS-Index, adds: “Driven by concerned students, citizens, local governments and corporations a new era of sustainability is rising, and will touch every corner of the events industry. We believe that a better and more restorative global future lies in urban innovation and collaborative action. The GDS-Index plays a key role to engage, inspire and enable destinations to

become more sustainable places to visit, meet and thrive in.”

Download the 2019 GDS-Index Whitepaper

The 2019 GDS-Index benchmarking period is open for existing and new destinations until September 5th.

For more information, or to join the GDS-Index please contact:

Guy Bigwood, Managing Director

Find out more about the GDS-Index and their partners:


The GDS-Index is a collaborative partnership between ICCA, ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter, IMEX, ECM and MCI Group. It measures, benchmarks and improves the sustainability strategy and performance of meetings, events and business tourism destinations. Founded by pioneering Scandinavian Convention Bureau, its purpose is to engage, inspire and enable destinations to become more sustainable places to visit, meet and thrive in.


ICCA - the International Congress and Convention Association - is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry. ICCA represents the world's top destinations and most experienced and leading suppliers specialised in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events, and comprises over 1,100 member companies and organisations in almost 100 countries worldwide. Since its establishment in 1963, ICCA specialises in the international association meetings sector, offering unrivalled data, communication channels, and business development opportunities.


The IMEX Group, based in the UK, has just one mission: to unite and advance the meetings industry – doing everything it can to educate, innovate and help everyone in the business events industry make powerful connections with the right people. The IMEX team serves this mission, and the industry we love, by delivering two market-leading trade shows every year - one in Frankfurt each spring and one in Las Vegas each autumn.


MCI is the global leader in engaging and activating audiences. Our business is founded on a simple human insight: When people come together, magic happens. This magic is called community. Since 1987 we have been bringing people together through inspiring meetings, events, congresses and association management. MCI helps organisations harness the power of community by applying our strategic engagement and activation solutions to build unforgettable online and offline experiences that foster change, inspire, educate and enhance business performance. MCI is an independently owned company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and boasts a global presence with +2,500 professionals in 60 offices and 31 countries, who work with clients across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, India, the Middle East and Africa. Find out more at


European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of the leading cities of Europe. ECM provides a platform for Leisure, Meetings Industry and City Marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practices and widen their network to build new business.

European Cities Marketing believes that whether in Portugal or in Poland, Ireland or Italy, DMOs are uniquely placed to project vision, ambition and a message to the rest of the world about their place. Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, strengthened by deep and meaningful private sector partnerships, we believe that DMOs should feel confident about asserting their position in city government, becoming an indispensable resource for all of those who wish to invest time and money in a city.

ECM members are official tourist boards, convention bureaux and multi-functional urban marketing agencies established by cities in Europe. They are official in the sense that they are constituted either as departments of city government or public-private partnerships (i.e. companies, foundations, etc.). Find out more at