Viva City header graphic

VivaCITY is a challenge to win a three-year funded engagement with CityDNA, Simpleview, and a team of  three global experts in destination development and implementation: Professor Frank Cuypers, an international leader in destination development, Elke Dens, a specialist in regenerative placemaking, and David Peacock, Senior Strategist and Advisor for the Future Tourism Group at Simpleview.

This is a living lab for CityDNA, it goes well beyond consult to result.

“We have a new long term strategy that is holistic,” says CityDNA President Petra Stušek, “now we need to walk our talk. When the word city pops up everybody thinks about Europe, it's our fabric. Now we need to show the world that we can take strategy into implementation.


Program Details


VivaCITY is a project to:

  • Transform and coach a DMO into a DMO that is futureproof
  • Create a transforming strategy that is holistic, concise and tangible
  • Show that a fundamental grass roots approach is the only one
  • Inspire a DMO, a city, the cities of CityDNA, Europe and the world
  • Share learnings and insights and...add CityDNA, board, staff, knowledge and advisory teams

VivaCITY offers:

Each of the two winning cities will receive a package of benefits, including a 3 year investment of nearly half a million Euros  in consultancy hours, training for team members, and coaching.



  • The winners will develop stronger connections with stakeholders and residents within their respective communities.
  • The DMO will also benefit from increased international exposure and attention, as well as the opportunity to learn from the best.
  • The selected cities will have complete ownership and credits for the strategy developed.
  • While this is not necessary for the success of the project, it does present a valuable demo opportunity and high visibility for the city internationally.

Who can participate?

  • Must be a member of CityDNA
  • Everyone can participate, both new DMOs as well as very experienced ones
  • Size of your staff does not matter as long as you can guarantee sufficient co-operation and resource allocation
  • Size of your city does not matter
  • Language will not be a criterium – we’ll find solutions for that
  • Solutions will be tailor-made (starting from your specific situation) but will be used to create development and engagement templates for all CityDNA members

VivaCITY Challenge Webinar


Intake Criteria & Selection



We have received an incredible amount of interest in the VivaCITY Challenge, thank you for getting involved.

Next step for applications - you'll receive information about the Round 2 Jury interview in due course. 

For those of you observing - ensure you register for the upcoming CityDNA conference in Valencia, where the winners will be announced. 

Procedure (Round 1) - COMPLETED!

Write a two page essay (in English):

  • Why is this project something for your DMO?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • How do you see tourism in your city in 3 years from now?
  • What are the specific challenges you have?
  • How would you describe the soul of your city?



Procedure (Round 2)


  • Presentation of your city challenge and your team
  • Questions for you from the Jury
  • Questions for the Jury from you

Jury to consist of Simpleview (David Peacock), CityDNA (Flavie de Bueil-Baudot), PlaceGeneration (Frank Cuypers & Elke Dens)


  • Two winners: ideally one large city and one smaller city
  • Four additional cities will be given the status of peer cities and integrated in the learning lab in the select winning destinations
  • We will announce the Challenge winners (2+4) at the next CityDNA conference in October




We’re looking for the best representation of where you are as a destination and where you want to be. Consider the challenges you’ve faced and how motivated you and your team are to evolve and accept the VivaCITY Challenge.  
This essay will not be scored, but we will be shortlisting the essays which display creativity and initiative.  Some examples of areas you could focus on include – but are not limited to – the following topics:

  • Why is this project relevant to your DMO?
  • What does success look like for you as a DMO?
  • Three years from now, what does tourism in your city look like?
  • What are the specific challenges that you are currently facing?
  • How would you describe the soul of your city?

The deadline was 7th July 2023 at midnight CET.  Please note that we are no longer taking applications for the challenge. 

Simpleview has had a firm foothold within Europe for over 20 years now, with offices in Liverpool, Oslo, and Malaga.  There are 70 staff members in the European team, supporting over 200 clients across Europe.  

After decades of working with tourism thought leaders around the world, this project is an opportunity to bring all of that focussed thinking (and resources) to the front burner so that we can work with two European destinations to really understand and demonstrate to the rest of the world what the future of tourism looks like.  

Simpleview in its commitment to providing the best products and services to the world sees the necessity for a kinder, gentler tourism, and has created the opportunity for a VivaCITY Challenge to accelerate that shift.

Yes, that is possible. The starting point will be different for each DMO. If you can convince us that you are the right candidate we can work to integrate with your strategy.

  • Project Manager (½ - 1 full day per week for 36 months.)
  • Logistics Team (accommodation, venue, event, transportation/travel etc) 
  • Access to residents and other stakeholders

Assuming that there is an “in kind” partnership agreement with the venues etc., within your destination, the financial support could be low - however, this will differ from destination to destination.  Primary out of pocket expenses could include: venues, hosting/accommodation, transport, and travel.

Depending on the size of your city, this will be between 2 - 4 times per year.

You will need to be able to communicate with us in English as a DMO team.  However, for the stakeholder engagement sessions, we will work with you to provide this in your local language.


Everyone can participate – both newly formed DMOs as well as very experienced ones.

The size of your staff does not matter as long as you can guarantee sufficient co-operation and resource allocation.

We have received a lot of questions about the size of the destination/DMO, but we’ll be looking for motivated destinations that have the intention of creating engaged communities.  Beyond that, size does not matter.  A small, motivated destination has as much chance as a larger destination. 

You will be invited to an online jury conversation, where you will present your city, your challenge, and your team. 

This conversation will be an informal bi-directional meeting, where you will have the opportunity to ask any questions.  The VivaCITY team will share a number of guiding questions with you beforehand to allow you and your team to prepare.

A member of your senior management team will need to be in attendance.

  • Professor Frank Cuypers, Strategist and Founder Place Generation
  • Elke Dens, Specialist in Regenerative Placemaking
  • David Peacock, Senior Strategist and Advisor for The Future Tourism Group at Simpleview
  • Flavie de Bueil, COO CityDNA

Ensure that we have an experienced Project Manager for this 3 year project?

Commit the resources to host the VivaCITY Team? 

Commit to becoming a CityDNA member (if you aren’t already), if selected? Further details on becoming a CityDNA member can be found here.

The project manager is responsible for planning, organising, and overseeing the project from beginning to end. They will work closely with the CityDNA/Simpleview team members and their own internal and external stakeholders. Throughout the project, the project manager monitors progress, communicates with team members and stakeholders, and ensures that the project stays on track. They are also responsible for managing risks, communicating these risks to the project team and resolving issues as they arise. The ultimate goal of the project manager is to deliver the project on time, and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders involved.

There will be two winners - one large city and one smaller city.

Four additional cities will be given the status of peer cities and integrated within the learning lab.

The announcement will be made during the CityDNA Autumn Conference in Valencia on October 4-7, 2023.  If you are selected, you will be informed beforehand in order for you to prepare.

Phase 1 will then begin straight after the announcement.

  • Regular part of CityDNA conferences, in terms of updating members on the project.  
  • Increased international exposure and attention according to your own possibilities, availability, and inclination.
  • Your first opportunity for exposure will be the announcement during CityDNA Autumn Conference in Valencia on October 4-7, where you will be expected to present.

Yes! But please liaise on the timing with the VivaCITY team. We aim to have some of the results for CityDNA members only and others shared to the rest of the industry.

Phase 1 - Where are we? 

Research, DMO Audit, Company Culture, Roles, Processes, Marketing, Leadership.

Phase 2 - Where could we be? Where do we want to be? 

Data analysis and data mining, identity mapping, city scan, identity workshops with stakeholders, town hall sessions, community engagement communicating the project, resident engagement and sentiment. 

Phase 3 - How do we get there? Strategy and Implementation

Strategy development, planning, guidance on implementation/walk your talk - step by step guidance on the implementation, turn into a case, and demonstrate learnings.



Please submit any questions to