Valencia Hosted City Destinations Alliance Conference: A Leap Towards Sustainable Urban Tourism


Valencia played host to the City Destinations Alliance Autumn Conference 2023 from October 3 to 7, witnessing a record turnout of 240 attendees.

The event saw a congregation of visionaries, tourism professionals, and forward-thinkers from around the world, all united in their quest for sustainable urban tourism and the positive transformation of urban destinations.

Themed “Building Blocks for Destination Positive,” the conference was a melting pot of innovative sessions, thought-provoking discussions, and groundbreaking approaches to sculpt better cities and tourist destinations. Here are some of the standout moments:

  • Educated Hope and Critical Optimism: Rhys Williams from the University of Glasgow emphasized the significance of educated hope and critical optimism in envisioning a positive destination.

  • Visit Mesa’s Accessibility Initiatives: Alison Brooks showcased Visit Mesa’s comprehensive sensory design for creating an autism-friendly destination, emphasizing the potential of Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) in enhancing hospitality staff skills and offering accessibility information.

  • Social Tourism Best Practices: Julie Benisty Oviedo from Bordeaux Métropole highlighted the SolidAIR initiative, showcasing how tourism can be a boon for communities, especially those lacking leisure opportunities.

  • Diversity and Belonging Roadmap: Representatives from the CityDNA Advisory Council presented their roadmap for the alliance, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity.

  • Purposeful Business Models: An interactive workshop led by representatives from amsterdam&partners and VISITFLANDERS delved into a new business model focusing on the positive impact of congresses.

  • VisitOSLO’s Transformation: Anne-Signe Fagereng discussed how the opera house in Oslo transformed into a major tourist attraction, emphasizing the role of DMOs in fostering inclusive destination experiences.

  • Urban Design with AI: Damiano Cerrone introduced UrbanistAI’s AI-based tools, allowing participants to visualize urban design ideas using smart devices.

Signe Jungersted from Group NAO expertly moderated the conference, ensuring that the discussions were both engaging and fruitful.

Petra Stušek, President of City Destinations Alliance, encapsulated the essence of the conference, saying, “Our mission fosters hope, and we believe in the power of WeGeneration to shape better cities and destinations.”

The event was graced by participants from global cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Vienna, among others. Partners and collaborators, including ForwardKeys, Mabrian Technologies, and the University of Glasgow, played a pivotal role in the conference’s success.

In conclusion, Petra Stušek remarked, “Let’s shift from problems to solutions and from obstacles to opportunities. Together, we can make the dream of ‘Destination Positive’ our shared reality.” The next CityDNA International Conference & General Assembly is slated for spring 2024 in Bologna.

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