Tripadvisor Partners with Global Destination Sustainability Movement to Identify Sustainable Destinations

Bicycle standing in a Copenhagn park at sunset.jpg

Skift Take

How can the travel industry create a more equitable platform for destinations leading the charge in sustainability? Tripadvisor and GDS-Index are taking a stab at solving this challenge.

Data from destination sustainability experts, Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS-Movement), forms the core of Tripadvisor’s new list of sustainable destinations. In total, 15 global cities were selected in the sustainability category for Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards Best of the Best. All but three are in Europe.

Tripadvisor used GDS-Movement’s data around four key areas: the environment, social progressiveness (including inclusiveness, corruption, personal safety, etc), infrastructure, and sustainability strategy and management.

Tripadvisor’s methodology also involved analyzing around 300,000 reviews, looking for mentions of 67 sustainability-related terms and phrases. It also considered the percentage of reviews that mentioned sustainability for each destination over the last 12 months.

“Tripadvisor’s community of global travelers is passionate about sustainability as a consideration for when they’re planning trips and we’re proud to highlight such an important category. This category helps guide people looking to travel more sustainably while recognising the efforts of global destinations committed to environmental change,” said Kristen Dalton, president of Tripadvisor.

Tripadvisor’s use of GDS-Index data is undoubtedly a vote of confidence in a data-driven approach to destination sustainability. The GDS-Index is a pay-to-play ranking and, therefore, is limited to destinations willing to pay and submit the necessary data. Nevertheless, this partnership is a promising sign for destinations that are proactively reporting on their sustainability efforts.

The partnership also suggests that the European Union’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) may have a wider impact on the tracking and reporting of event sustainability.

“We’re pleased to collaborate with Tripadvisor in recognizing cities committed to environmental and social responsibility through the Travelers’ Choice “Best of the Best” Sustainable Destinations 2024. These cities serve as role models in sustainable tourism, showcasing a shared dedication to a more sustainable and resilient future in travel,” said Guy Bigwood, CEO of GDS-Movement.

Top Sustainable Destinations

Copenhagen topped the Tripadvisor list, which includes many of the same names as the 2023 Global Destination Sustainability Index (highlighted).

Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice for Sustainable Destinations
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Stockholm, Sweden
3. Bordeaux, France
4. Helsinki, Finland

5. Singapore
6. Melbourne, Australia
7. Oslo, Norway
8. Brussels, Belgium
9. Galway, Ireland
10. Belfast, United Kingdom
11. Bangkok, Thailand
12. Barcelona, Spain
13. Montreal, Canada
14. Milan, Italy
15. Zurich, Switzerland
Global Destination Sustainability Index 2023
1. Gothenburg, Sweden
2. Oslo, Norway
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Helsinki, Finland

5. Bergen, Norway
6. Aarhus, Denmark
7. Aalborg, Denmark
8. Glasgow, United Kingdom
9. Bordeaux, France
10. Stockholm, Sweden
11. Belfast, United Kingdom
12. Zurich, Switzerland

13. Lyon, France
14. Goyang, South Korea
15. Tirol, Austria
Source: Tripadvisor and GDS-Index

Nordic capitals are at the top of both indexes, highlighting the region’s long-standing focus on sustainability. Appropriately, the GDS-Index started its life as the Scandinavian Destination Sustainability Index led by the ICCA Scandinavian Chapter and MCI.

The Tripadvisor list seems to favor larger cities, with smaller Nordic cities that rank highly in the GDS-Index completely absent. Gothenburg, which topped the GDS-Index on seven occasions, including in 2023, is a notable absence. The absence of smaller cities is likely due to a smaller volume of social media content to track.

Photo credit: Febiyan / Unsplash