Photo Credit: GDS Index

Ensuring continuous improvement and progress towards more regenerative destinations.

The GDS-Index is a destination-level programme that promotes scalable sustainability and responsible practices among tourism destinations globally. It measures, benchmarks, and suggests improvements for the sustainability strategy and performance of tourism and events each year.

The annual review and update of the criteria and methodology aim to ensure continuous improvement and progress towards more regenerative destinations.

Each year, the GDS-Index criteria undergo an in-depth revision following consultation and input from participating destinations, the GDS-Movement Team of Assessors, and then an in-depth improvement process conducted by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), comprising 15 tourism, academic, and sustainability experts.

Photo Credit: GDS Index

For 2023, based on feedback from destinations, the TAC and GDS-Movement decided to make minimal updates to the 69 criteria and focus on four significant improvements.

1. A thorough review and improvement of the guidance and criteria questions make the submission processes easier for participating destinations.

2. New questions include assessing DMOs with a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI or EDI) programme, and assessing destinations’ top 10 visitor attractions.

3. Changing the certification requirements for 2023 only, to allow suppliers with environmental certifications (e.g. Swan) to gain points (but in 2024 the types of accepted certifications will be stricter).

4. The review and improvement of the scoring rubric better rewards areas where destinations are making the most impact.

As part of the GDS-Index’s efforts to manage a benchmarking programme that supports regenerative destination management, 2024 will see a major update, particularly around DEI, measurement, and climate. The criteria development update will start in April 2023, led by the GDS-Movement and in conjunction with the TAC.

If you’re interested in measuring and improving your destination’s sustainability impacts, click here.

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