Introducing The GDS-Academy – Dynamic learning to inspire the regeneration of the tourism, meetings and events industry

The GDS-Academy has launched and will deliver the latest, progressive perspectives, teaching and practical application that will catalyse the mindsets and skills sets of DMO professionals, organisations and their partners. The ultimate goal of the GDS-Academy is to enable positive social, environmental and economic regeneration through tourism and events based on a refreshed understanding of what it takes for a sector to thrive.

By using regenerative frameworks and fostering networking and collaboration the GDS-Academy will bring much needed new learning to enable destination professionals to adapt to the ever- evolving conditions brought upon by massive shifts in the sector so deeply affected by the global pandemic.

The GDS-Academy offers education as open-enrolment online classes for professionals, and online/hybrid learning for organisations and destinations. The two initial formats are:

  • The GDS-ICCA-ECM Certificate in Regenerative Destination Management. This powerful 16-week learning journey is designed to help experienced Destination Professionals to rethink, reimagine and redesign their destination’s tourism and events strategy.
  • Masterclasses are 3-4 session action focused, deep-dive learning experiences created to enhance skills and capacity in various critical subjects. The initial 4 masterclasses are Impact Strategy and Measurement, Planning for Recovery and Resilience, Regenerative Event Management and Storytelling for Regeneration. Our Masterclasses are delivered in partnership with our education partners Travel Foundation and #MEET4IMPACT.

The faculty are experts in sustainable destination management and thought leaders in regenerative management practices. Together they facilitate dynamic learning experiences that accelerates professional growth using design thinking processes that are immersive, engaging and fun.

The GDS-Academy is brought to you as a dynamic collaboration with ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) and ECM (European Cities Marketing) who are the strategic and certificate partners.


Guy Bigwood, the Managing Director of the GDS-Movement had this to say – “This day marks the realisation of our dream to provide destination marketing and management organisations with high quality, unique and specialised learning and development experiences about regenerative tourism and events. This milestone is a result of the deep commitment and great collaboration with our partners at ICCA, ECM, Travel Foundation and MEET4IMPACT.“


“Sustainability is simply essential for the future of our industry. As such, it is vital that the Association meetings community takes an active role in developing and implementing sustainable event strategies that are of the highest standards and fully aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
Senthil Gopinath, CEO, ICCA


“We are delighted to partner with the GDS-Movement to develop an inspiring, inclusive, positive transformation towards an economy and society for a more resilient future. The GDS-Academy is completing well the activities and projects of the ECM Sustainability Knowledge Group to support and positively contribute to the development of the DMOs of tomorrow as well as sustainable urban tourism destinations”
Petra Stušek, President of European Cities Marketing and CEO of Ljubljana Tourism


“The whole team at #Meet4Impact is so excited to be part of the GDS Academy! This partnership provides a unique opportunity to join forces with the best-in-class in destination sustainability, and it’s the best channel we could hope for to launch this brand-new Impact Masterclass for DMOs.  We are hopeful that sharing our knowledge will contribute to  DMOs developing a purposeful pathway towards social and environmental regeneration through the visitor economy.”
Geneviève Leclerc, CMP, Co-Founder & CEO, #Meet4Impact


“We are excited to be able to take this programme to the next level, bringing together our unique perspective with the considerable expertise, experience and network of GDS. Through it, we look forward to working together with destinations to help them plan and deliver bold recovery plans and strategies that will see them fit for the future and ready to take on the challenges ahead in a way that puts people and planet front and centre.”
Jeremy Sampson, CEO, the Travel Foundation




The GDS-Index is a collaborative partnership between ICCA, ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter, IMEX, ECM and MCI Group. It measures, benchmarks and improves the sustainability strategy and performance of meetings, events and business tourism destinations. Its purpose is to engage, inspire and enable destinations to become more sustainable places to visit, meet and thrive in.


The GDS-Movement unites and enables destination management professionals to create flourishing and resilient places to visit, meet and live in. Our mission is to co-create sustainable and circular strategies, mindsets and skill sets that will enable destinations of the future to thrive, and society and nature to regenerate.


European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of the leading cities of Europe. ECM provides a platform for Leisure, Meetings Industry and City Marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practices and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is linking the interests of members from more than 115 major cities in 36 countries. More information can be found on


ICCA – the International Congress and Convention Association – is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry. ICCA represents the world’s top destinations and most experienced and leading suppliers specialising in handling, transporting, and accommodating international meetings and events, and comprises over 1,100 member companies and organisations in 92 countries and territories worldwide. Since its establishment in 1963, ICCA specialises in the international association meetings sector, offering unrivalled data, communication channels, and business development opportunities.  


#MEET4IMPACT, a non-profit organization, is a collective and collaborative project that has been designed with the vision of transforming the business events industry by generating a movement to create positive societal impact with its actors and their events.
Launched in 2019 by Geneviève Leclerc, who has more than 25 years of experience in the business events sector, and Jacques Blanchet, expert in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility, #MEET4IMPACT wishes to propel the actors it engages in the development of protocols to create all-round impacts.


Travel Foundation brings together travel businesses, suppliers, community groups, governments, local authorities and more to develop practical solutions which maximise the benefits and minimise the negative impacts of tourism in destinations.  To this end, they work with those who plan and manage tourism in a way that ensures they can:
– identify, measure and manage the impacts of their tourism activities.
– embed sustainability into core policies, supporting frameworks and operational practices.
– share the results of their work with their peers and competitors, inspiring change in others.