Sustainable cities are more livable for residents, but also more attractive for tourists. The shift of travelers’ mindset towards a greater environmental consciousness has steadily accelerated in the last few years. People choose their destinations more carefully and are likely to pay more for a sustainable holiday. According to a survey that Euromonitor released last Summer, 79% of travelers are prepared to pay at least 10% more if their destination features energy saving and CO2 reduction measures, waste recycling, nature-friendly outdoor experiences, or ecotourism activities.
But how can we recognize a sustainable destination? Every year the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Movement analyzes 100 cities across the globe and ranks the top eco-friendly cities, highlighting the most regenerative and resilient places for travelers to visit.
Four key areas are examined: environmental performance, investigating policies for public transportation, carbon emissions, renewable energy sources, etc.; social performance, covering topics such as personal safety, wellness, inclusion, etc.; destination management; sustainable suppliers serving the travel industry, like airports, hotels, and restaurants.
The GDS-Index 2023 clearly shows that Europe leads the way. Specifically, if you want to visit a sustainable destination, you’d better travel to Denmark and the Nordics: Denmark is the country that secured the most of the top 20 destinations, with five of its cities ranking.
Sweden came next with three cities and deserved the highest step of the podium with Gothenburg. Taking the title for the seventh time, this Swedish city is keeping up with a strong carbon neutrality policy and is highly appreciated for its sustainable transportation options (the southern islands are completely car-free) and green infrastructure. Norway’s capital Oslo gained the second position in 2023, acknowledging its effective measures for protecting nature, forests, and fjords, as well as the determination to complete the transition towards electric vehicles and biofuels. More than 90% of the hotels around the city are eco-certified, and most restaurants offer sustainable meals and zero food waste initiatives.
Smart technologies support sustainability ambitions in many of the destinations listed in the GDS-Index. Smart Lighting solutions help cities cut power consumption and greenhouse emissions by controlling streetlights from remote and setting dynamic, condition-based lighting patterns. Smart Parking systems save up to 30% of urban congestion by avoiding idle driving for parking search, so reducing related fuel consumption and air pollution. Smart Waste technologies allow municipalities to improve solid waste collection and favor recycling. Last but not least, Smart Environmental Sensors provide city managers with accurate, hyper-local date to take informed decisions for better citizens’ safety and disaster prevention.