The Global Destination Sustainability Index is a performance
improvement programme supporting destination management organisations
(DMOs) and convention bureaus to adopt and promote responsible and
The latest Index and awards were revealed last week, with Gothenburg
in Sweden winning the ‘Leadership award’, Bangkok in Thailand being
named the ‘Most Improved’ and Belfast in Northern Ireland picking up the
Three representatives from these destinations offer insight into their approach to sustainability:
Pat Satkhum, sustainability advocate and strategic planner, TCEB
TCEB, we have been working on carbon footprint calculation and carbon
neutrality for the last 10 years but it’s been very difficult, it’s been
very academic and people aren’t ready. But in the past couple of years,
carbon footprint has been knocking on our doors, we cannot ignore this
issue. How can we get results fast enough to slow down global warming?
Thailand has come up with a framework, but we are not only focusing on
offsetting our carbon footprint - we are trying to avoid it. We should
do everything in our power first, to avoid and reduce carbon footprint
in our events, and then you can offset. It seems that we talk less about
One important thing that I have learned from being in this Index is
that you learn from your colleagues, those who have achieved very good
scores. I don’t see the Index as a competitive platform, it’s not about
which destination is better than the other. My team is not only focusing
on the score - we look at where the gaps are, what areas we can improve
upon and what we have done already that is positive and how we can
share this. That is our philosophy - it’s not so much about whether we
have good recycling in place or not - we look at how we can work around
Jac Callan, sustainability and impact manager, Visit Belfast
looked at the UN Sustainable Development Goals, at number one and two,
which are ‘no poverty’ and ‘zero hunger’. We really weren't stepping up
in that space. So we wanted to look at ways to change that. We partnered
with our clients and with our industry to look at ways that we can
respond and reuse supplies to really support food banks right across the
city, pioneering a new initiative called ‘Changing the menu for good’.
It’s a project co-created with People’s Kitchen, one of the largest food
banks in Belfast and developed with founding industry partners, such as
hotels, caterers, venues and PCOs. There are a variety of ways to
donate, meaning business events, gala dinners, conferences and meetings
can choose a method that suits their event. Funds raised will be used
for food parcels, hot food and drinks, homeless outreach and emergency
financial support to cover heating bills or essential supplies.
It’s contributing to the wellbeing of the local community and
citizens and helping us become a responsible tourism and events
destination. It’s also providing clients with a really easy solution. It
has made a real and tangible difference in Belfast.
Katarina Thorstensson, smart tourism and sustainability strategist, Göteburg & Co
have to be patient when you work with these [sustainability] issues as
you can lose faith from time to time. One of the important things is to
have a common vision together with your stakeholders about what you want
to achieve. We set a bold goal to become one of the global leaders in
sustainable meetings and events and we were inspired by looking at what
other industries were doing. We also carried out thorough research and
we could see that associations were asking for more sustainable
suppliers and wanted to know what the destination could do.
We’ve had a strategic approach to legacy and impact for many years.
For new cities that are considering benchmarking, take a look at what
you are already doing, as you are probably doing quite a few things
already. An outside eye is always useful too and be patient.