The Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS-Movement), a change agency committed to fostering regenerative destinations and events globally, is at the forefront of the GDS-Index. Acting as a destination-level performance tool, the GDS-Index assesses, benchmarks and enhances the regenerative approach and implementation of tourism and event destinations on a global scale. The 2024 GDS-Index criteria are officially introduced in anticipation of the upcoming benchmarking season, scheduled to kick off on March 25. This season will involve the participation of 100 dedicated destinations worldwide.

The GDS-Index criteria process, guided by the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the GSTC Destination Criteria, underwent a comprehensive, six-month revision process involving a range of interested parties. This involved gathering and analyzing feedback with over 650 comments from past and present participating destinations worldwide, partners, the GDS-Movement team, the City DNA Sustainability Knowledge Group of European Destinations, as well as the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) consisting of 15 experts in tourism, academia and destination sustainability. 

This year, the update introduces 12 new and 28 enhanced criteria, totaling 77 qualitative and quantitative indicators across all four performance categories: environmental, social, supplier and destination management. The criteria enhancement results in a more rigorous index that measures and prepares destinations for the significant challenges facing the tourism and events industry, including climate change, loss of biodiversity and negative social impacts, all exacerbated by a lack of efficient legislation.

To better assess current sustainability performance and future fit strategy, the following sub-categories were improved or introduced: water management, circular economy, short-term tourism rentals, funding mechanisms, resident sentiment, climate action, visitor management, capacity building, mobility, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). 

"Amidst mounting global challenges, the urgency for faster and smarter responses in tourism is clear. With destinations actively engaging in their sustainability journey, our criteria update reflects a commitment to evolution, addressing emerging issues, and emphasizing regeneration," said Guy Bigwood, CEO of the GDS-Movement. "This isn't just about improvement; it's about propelling the industry towards a regenerative future, urgently calling for collective action to change the tourism and events industry to mitigate climate change and accelerate real action on sustainability worldwide." 

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