Increased awareness and action towards more sustainable meetings may be the silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the annual Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index reveals.
Citing a growing public and political awareness on equality, diversity, and climate change, "this year we see a tidal wave of new sustainable destination strategies and positive action," said Guy Bigwood, Managing Director of the GDS-Index.
The performance improvement programme supports destination management organisations (DMOs) and convention bureaus to adopt and promote responsible and regenerative practices, and the index ranks destinations based on 1) city environmental strategy and infrastructure, 2) city social sustainability performance, 3) industry supplier support and 4) strategy and initiatives.
Added Bigwood, "DMOs are stepping up to better engage and listen to their residents, co-create new visions with their stakeholders, educate both the supply chain and their customers, financially support certification programmes, and measure results."
This year's GDS-Index features 73 destinations, marking steady growth since its 2016 inception, where 23 destinations participated.
Bigwood recognised that many DMOs have also used the last 18 months to integrate and rethink responsible destination strategies.
"2021 will be recognised as a tipping-point year, not only for increased action in sustainability, but also as the year when destination management really took precedence over destination marketing," he said.
While APAC destinations are yet to feature among the top 10, Australian cities are inching forward, with Melbourne scoring 11th place in the 2021 ranking.
Sydney and Brisbane are the next top-ranked cities in the region, followed by Goyang in South Korea, Sapporo in Japan, Sarawak in Malaysia, and Bangkok in Thailand.
Recognised actions by Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) include tools and resources developed for industry players to improve the sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility of their operations, a new Social Outcomes Strategy for event owners as part of their sponsorship agreements.
The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre is also the first centre worldwide to receive the 6-Star Green Star rating for its environmental design and operational features; as well as having a Climate Mitigation Strategy 2050, Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 and a commitment by the Victorian State Government to net zero emissions by 2050.
Globally, Gothenburg took the top spot in the GDS-Index for the fifth year running, while Copenhagen and Aarhus, both in Denmark, round out the top three.
Source: M&C Asia