There is no doubt that cities are the growth engines of the future, yet the proliferation and development of cities around the world carries with it the threat of environmental damage, social friction and resource strain. As such, the MICE industry, Destination Management Organisations and Convention and Visitor Bureaus have a critical role to play in supporting cities in the transition to greater sustainability. To research how this can be done, the Global Destination Sustainability Index launched its first white paper on Sustainable Destination Management this year at IMEX Frankfurt.

The report “Sustainable Destination Management Trends and Insights: A Path to a Brighter Future” draws on analysis from 35 cities who participated in the 2016 GDS-Index benchmarking process. It identifies how destinations are using sustainability to drive the development and implementation of destination sustainability strategies that support their city’s overall social, environmental and economic development while enhancing competitive positioning.Through case studies and comparative data, the research – conducted by MCI Sustainability Services – highlights ten key insights on how destinations can reinforce their strategy through: leadership, financial incentives and capacity training, strong local community and supplier engagement, and effective communication about sustainability. 

Below are three of our favourite insights:


1. DMO as an agent of economic development


DMO’s and CVB’s are increasingly seen as an agent of economic development in cities. Sustainability in cities is a growing theme for events, and one of the high growth sectors is in the meetings industry. Globally we are seeing destinations become much more strategic about how they create and attract events that support their cities’ development agendas. Increasingly popular topics are areas in green energy, clean tech, smart cities and responsible business. In addition to bringing in events, CVBs and DMOs also have the opportunity to support the local economy. Take the Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau, who works in partnership with the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts to make convention bags that use high quality, locally produced kimono fabric made by traditional Kyoto artisans! These bags allow meetings to connect with the culture and contribute to the local economy – while giving delegates a chance to take home a tangible reminder of their experience in Kyoto that can be reused again and again. 


2. The Journey Matters


Mobility is a key focus for sustainable, smart destinations with many cities creating strategies for more efficient, healthy and less polluting forms of transportation. Cities with a strong focus on clean and accessible public transport infrastructure are also highly sought after as event destinations. An example of smart collaboration around transportation is Stuttgart, the city that is considered the cradle of the automobile industry. On the 125th anniversary of the automobile in 2011, Stuttgart-Marketing GmbH collaborated with about 60 hotels and the Transit and Tariff Association Stuttgart to provide free public transport passes to travellers when hotel reservations are made through Stuttgart-Marketing GmbH. 


3. The Sustainable Food Revolution


Restaurants around the world are scrambling to market their “localness”. For example both Melbourne and Sydney work with suppliers to offer alternative healthy menus that are produced within a certain radius of the event, guaranteeing its freshness and lowering its carbon footprint. What about what happens after the meal? The war on waste is also becoming an increasingly important of destination management. The Zurich Hotel Association, in collaboration with United Against Waste, is currently organizing food waste workshops for its partners. The first results are astonishing: participating hotels could in average reduce their food waste by 42%!


Would you agree with these trends? To read more insights from the GDS-Index white paper, please download the report here. To contact the GDS-Index team please email