The Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS-Movement) has announced the winners of the 2023 GDS-Awards, recognising outstanding efforts in destination sustainability. These prestigious awards, presented during the GDS-Awards ceremony in partnership with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), were revealed during the 2023 GDS-Forum hosted in Valencia, Spain, on 3–4 October. The event was made possible by Visit València City Destinations Alliance and GDS-Movement.

GDS-Movement, renowned for its commitment to driving sustainability in the tourism and events industry, honours destinations that lead the way in sustainability initiatives, those that have shown remarkable improvements, and those that are pushing the boundaries of innovation and impact. In 2023, the awards ceremony featured an additional category, the GDS-Movement and #Meet4Impact Impact Award, in collaboration with #Meet4Impact.

The 2023 GDS-Awards Winners

The Leadership and Most Improved Destination awards are based on GDS-Index results, the world’s leading destination sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme.

The Leadership Award recognises the destination with the highest score on the GDS-Index, showcasing its continual commitment and measurable impacts.
2023 Winner: Gothenburg, Sweden, represented by Göteborg & Co

The Most Improved Destination Award acknowledges the participating GDS-Index destination with the highest score increase, regardless of its ranking.
2023 Winner: Liverpool, United Kingdom, represented by Liverpool Convention Bureau

For the Innovation Award and the GDS-Movement and #Meet4Impact Impact Award, the applications selected internally by GDS-Movement changemakers have been passed on to two external panels whose judges will select a winner for each. Read more about the jury and process here.

Innovation Award  The Innovation Award celebrates destinations employing innovative solutions to enhance sustainability performance. 
2023 Winner: Washington DC, United States of America, represented by Destination DC at Washington DC

“Destination DC is thrilled to win the GDS-Movement Innovation Award and honoured to be acknowledged for Destination DC’s DEI Fellowship program as a sustainable and positive solution in hospitality. By engaging closely with our destination’s smaller businesses and community members, we can ensure companies that don’t have the financial wherewithal can take advantage of opportunities to get a piece of the pie that is the $8 billion hospitality industry in D.C. alone. We are proud of this award and the advancement we are making to challenge our industry in DEI and sustainability.”

Elliott L. Ferguson, II, President and CEO Destination DC

The GDS-Movement and #Meet4Impact Impact Award highlights a destination management organisation committed to building a positive legacy and impact through business events.
2023 Winner: Sydney, Australia, represented by BESydney

“BESydney has been recognised as a leader in legacy research for decades. We want to build on this foundation to create social impact programs that leverage business events to generate and measure positive, long-term social, economic and environmental impacts. We know business events can potentially create incredible positive change for global communities – across all industries. BESydney is taking this responsibility very seriously and is very grateful and humbled by the recognition of our work to date.”

Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney (BESydney)

Guy Bigwood, CEO and Chief Changemaker of GDS-Movement stated: “GDS-Movement salutes the 2023 GDS-Awards’ winners for their profound achievements that inspire and inform. Sustainability is a systemic solution where everybody wins, and winning practices can be analysed, borrowed, adapted, and scaled for exponential positive impact. We encourage all destinations to take their cue from these leaders and work together with us to transform tourism and events into a tool for regeneration in every destination on earth.”

Winners receive recognition with on-stage exposure at the 2023 GDS-Awards Ceremony taking place during the GDS-Forum, inclusion in the 2023 GDS-Index report, and the opportunity to present their initiatives at the dedicated GDS-Movement Feeling the Pulse webinar on October 11 and 12, 2023.

Attendees at the Feeling the Pulse webinar can expect to gain industry insights based on the most recent and verified data available, explore trends in destination sustainability practises, and learn from the winning destinations whose initiatives and efforts are deserving of international attention. To learn more and register for the Feeling the Pulse webinar, visit the following links: October 11, 09.00 CETOctober 12, 17.00 CET