Destination Canada announced last week the next phase of its Canadian Business Event Sustainability Plan with city partners across the country embarking on the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) annual benchmarking process.
The GDS-Index is the world’s leading sustainability performance program for business tourism destinations around the world. Used my more than 80 cities globally, the GDS-Index benchmarks and improves the sustainability performance and strategies of the municipality, its tourism supply chain, and the destination management organization. The program is being managed by ConnectSeven Group based in Vancouver, which leads GDS-movement initiatives in North America.
Launched this spring, Destination Canada’s Canadian Business Event Sustainability Plan is a first-of-its-kind national program aimed at improving the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental sustainability practices of business events in Canada.
“Sustainability is more than a competitive advantage, it is a collaborative one, too – a long-term commitment from the entire business event supply chain is a must-have on the path to sustainability,” said Virginie De Visscher, senior director of Business Development, Economic Sectors, Business Events, Destination Canada. “That is why having Canadian destination partners from coast-to-coast-to-coast join the GDS-INDEX and reaffirm their commitments to improving the economic, social-cultural, and environmental sustainability of the business events Canada hosts is so important. It also brings us that much closer to our collective responsibility of fostering a regenerative tourism ecosystem that produces positive net benefits for guests and Canadians, alike.”
Guy Bigwood, the Global Destination Sustainability Movement’s chief changemaker, welcomed Destination Canada and an expanding group of Canadian pioneering cities to the GDS-movement.
“The commitment to use the GDS-Index at a national level to benchmark, enable knowledge sharing, and drive capability improvement acros the events industry is world class,” he said. “The GDS-Index provides an operating system to guide and drive transformation across the city, the supply chain, and the destination management organization. This ecosystems approach has been proven to accelerate change and has the potential to improve positive impact more comprehensively than a single, standalone certification might.”
Recent sustainability advancements have been made in Montréal, the first Canadian city to join the GDS-Index, and Edmonton, the first city in Western Canada to join the index.
Tourisme Montréal created and launched an industry leading Guide to Best Practices for Sustainable Business Events as part of its new sustainable tourism strategy. Released in July 2022 to clients, the 28-page Guide was designed to drive concrete action across the industry – from new planners to more seasoned experts – by capturing a wealth of detailed information about how to make an event more sustainable. From small steps to more complex initiatives, everything is organized per category, with action items, local resources, and handy checklists to help make implementation easy and simple.
In August 2022, Explore Edmonton launched its Responsible Events Program (REP). Ranging from social to environmental Giving Projects, the REP provides tangible options for planners to choose from that not only align with their event’s objectives but can be rolled out regardless of the event’s size, type, or budget. For example, events can donate to Period Promise through the United Way or support reforestation efforts through partners like Wild and Pine. The REP also supports participation in the Carbon Neutral Events program, helping planners reduce event-related emissions.