Cork has made the Top 20 official list of sustainable destinations in the world. The news was announced this week by the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), the world’s largest destination sustainability ranking programme. Other destinations who secured a top 20 place include Brussels, Sydney, Zurich, Belfast, Kerry and Helsinki. The news is very timely coming in the week of COP 26, the UN Climate Change Conference and highlights the Cork Tourism Industry’s focus on improving destination sustainability in the region. The submission was made by Visit Cork, the official tourism body for the Cork region, incorporating both leisure (Pure Cork) and business tourism (Cork Convention Bureau) in a single voice.
Cork initially entered the GDS-Index in 2018 with an aim to be recognised as a leading destination in social, environmental and economic sustainability for both business and leisure tourism. Since then Visit Cork has continually worked with its many industry partners in improving Cork’s standing within the index, from an initial score of 42.3% in 2018 to a high of 71% in 2021. This places Cork in an impressive 18th place among a total of 73 other destinations and it is hoped that this good standing within the index will help promote Cork as a ‘green’ destination to both sustainably conscious tourists and event planners. More information on the Top 20 can be found through this link: https://www.gds.earth/top-20-2021/
‘The submission was very much a collaborative effort with Failte Ireland leading the way by initially engaging with the GDS-Movement and introducing the Convention Bureaux of Ireland to the concept in 2018. The process involved a year-long effort of collating data and information and is very reliant on the support of key stakeholders, especially Cork City and County Council. Other partners involved were Cork Airport, Cork Chamber, the Universities, Bus Eireann, Irish Rail and the Cork hotels who collaborated successfully to ensure that the submission would enhance our sustainability credentials’ according to Seamus Heaney Head of Visit Cork.
There have been a number of recent Visit Cork led initiatives which have contributed to Cork’s improving rank within the index. Starting with the creation of the Visit Cork Sustainability Strategy in 2020 which set out an action plan for increasing sustainability throughout Cork tourism and events by working with the industry. This in-turn has brought about projects such as increasing the number of Cork Convention Bureau Member hotels with active third-party sustainability certification by offering a hugely subsidised accreditation programme in partnership with Green Hospitality. This has had the effect of increasing the number of member hotels with active accreditation from just 23% in 2020 to 70% in 2021.
Visit Cork also launched a yearly Green Award to encourage and reward Cork tourism businesses with a commitment to operating sustainably. In December 2020, the inaugural award was won by Fernhill House Hotel & Gardens in Clonakilty for their continual work on sustainable initiatives throughout the year including an extensive tree planting programme. The submission process for the 2021 award is now open to Cork tourism businesses, with a winner being chosen during the Visit Cork ‘Pure Green’ week coming up later this month.
Ger O’Mahoney, Chairman of Visit Cork, welcomed the GDS-Index announcement for 2021 and said the result will hugely encourage tourism providers in the region to adopt, promote and recognise responsible and regenerative practices. The increasing public and political focus on equality, diversity, and climate change have had a massive positive impact on destinations and there is a requirement now to prove ourselves as being sustainability focused on the international stage. Visit Cork strives to place sustainable tourism at the heart of the region’s overall development.