November 15, 2018
At its closing ceremony this week of the 57th International Congress & Convention Association Congress, which was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, ICCA officials announced this year's winners of its Global Destination Sustainability Index awards, which showcase initiatives from convention bureaus across the globe, with the aim of sharing best practices to inspire the meetings and events industry.
According to ICCA, the industry is increasingly recognizing that even though tourism has an important economic impact on a destination or country, it has an equal effect on the environment through its extensive use of resources needed to sustain the needs of its visitors and the local communities.
ICCA's GDS Index works with convention bureaus to address this issue, allowing them to maximize the positive impact of tourism while balancing any negative effects through a sustainable, strategic approach.
This year's Innovation Award went to Copenhagen. Wonderful Copenhagen, the official tourism organization for the capital region of Denmark, released "Tourism for Good," a bold long-term strategy to make tourism part of the solution for a sustainable future. The plan looked at how the destination and its stakeholders can contribute to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and set targets and actions over the next three years.
The Leadership Award went to Göteborg, Sweden, for setting the pace and sharing best practices in the industry. ICCA said Göteborg & Co, the city's DMO, is a pioneer and has inspired with its unique integration of sustainability into its business practices.
The Most Improved Destination award went to Korea's Goyang Convention Bureau, which joined the GDS-Index in 2017, and has significantly improved its performance while making  tremendous efforts in advancing its sustainability initiatives. The city improved its overall performance by 17 percent and the Goyang Convention Bureau's performance improved by an impressive 40 percent, as a result of creating a formal sustainability strategy for the destination. This included industry training and putting in place tools to measure performance. Dublin was a close runner-up, increasing its overall performance by 16 percent, while the Dublin Convention Bureau increased its performance by 36 percent.
"The GDS-Index is keeping the strong momentum going with more than 50 destinations benchmarked in 2018," said Mélanie Delaplanche, director of the index. She noted that a number of U.S. destinations joined the rankings this year, including Washington, D.C., and Monterey County, Calif., as well as more far-flung places such as Bangkok, Dubai, St. Petersburg, Monaco, and Ljubljana, Slovenia. "Ireland is showing a strong commitment to sustainability, with Shannon, Cork, Galway and Kerry now on the index," Delaplanche added.
In other ICCA news, VisitScotland Business Events walked off with ICCA's Best Marketing Award this year, beating out the Hague Convention Bureau and the Serbian Convention Bureau. Chair of the judging panel, Patrick Delaney, managing director of SoolNua marketing agency, said in a statement announcing the winner, "VisitScotland created a campaign that was legendary in scope and vision, while being cost-effective and grounded in excellent execution. The campaign showed extraordinary vision in bringing together the local community/stakeholders from all over Scotland in an engaging and emotional way to communicate a common vision the power and impact of meetings."