Guest Post: Headed for Destination Regeneration? Here’s what to pack!

By: GDS-Movement

As wave upon wave of chaos crashes across the shores of our dreams and doings, any destination worth its promise, is questioning its destiny, and its role in the future of tourism.

At a peak of 10.4 % of global GDP in the last decade, tourism and travel profits are no trifle. But they aren’t stable, either. In 2020, Covid19 cut that by almost half to 5,5%. As we see a slow return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, we aren’t secure yet, because business and leisure tourism’s carbon footprint, over-tourism, and waste generation bounce back as well. Can we repack our suitcase of tools and practices to address the issues promptly and change the future?

Practically speaking, this is a profound challenge. No matter how well-meaning our good intentions, or how well-funded our initiatives are, the top-down, fossil-fuelled systems we work in together are still largely extractive, and our mindsets are tied into those systems. This makes transformation tricky. Enter tourism and events, the great catalyst. Yes, you read that right. With the right support, GDS-Movement believes (and can prove) that business and leisure tourism can catalyze the transition to a more regenerative industry that helps protect people and the planet.

To shift and transform, the method of “divide and concur” can be helpful. In other words, divide the challenges into manageable parts, and involve all stakeholders in addressing those parts so that all efforts – and profits! – are circular.

Let’s explore a few ways of seeing and doing this.

5 Essentials

1. Strategy Development and improvement – a regenerative visitor economy starts with a powerful vision and practical strategy. Have a look at this spectacular sustainability strategy for a regenerative meeting destination from the alpine destination of Tyrol, Austria.

2. Impact measurement and reporting – measure and manage social, economic, and environmental impacts to help destinations flourish through tourism and events. Like Destination Canada which brought together more than twenty DMOs to participate in the GDS-Academy’s Impact Strategy and Measurement Masterclass, you can help upskill your DMO leaders on how to address the legacy and impact of business events and set new indicators for change.

3. Communication refinement – showcase and tell your sustainability story effectively, no matter where you are in the journey. Telling more effective stories about your journey, that are authentic and inspiring can literally make the world of difference to stakeholders who are still learning why it matters.

4. Social innovation – stakeholder engagement nurtures innovation and amplifies positive impacts. This blog explores what deliberative democracy means for destinations.

5. Research – data-based surveys and analytics offer insights and trends that, if appropriately actioned, can contribute to flourishing and resilient places to visit, meet, and live in. Take tourism taxes, for example. Is there a way to use them as a policy tool to rebuild a balanced and re-generative visitor economy? This collaborative white paper thinks so.

The GDS-Movement has guided over 75 global destinations on their journey to transform their visitor economy into a regenerative force. We assist in all aspects of strategy development, stakeholder engagement and in communicating the achievements along the way.

But don’t take our word for it: “The GDS-Index is a unique example of how collaboration, including the sharing of best practices and expertise, can improve performance of destinations for the benefit of both our clients and local communities. It has provided us with opportunities and inspiration that has helped position Copenhagen as a leader in sustainable practices.”Kit Lykketoft, Director of Convention, Wonderful Copenhagen, Denmark.

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