100 Years of Advancing Destinations

DMAI Building Toolkit to Help Emerging Destinations Form DMO

Author: Jim McCaul
Posted: March 04, 2015
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There are a plethora of emerging destinations around the world that could benefit from the presence of a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to facilitate cohesive, strategic development of tourism products and marketing. Unfortunately, there is a gap in funding, knowledge, and physical capacity to bring DMOs into being in many of these locations.

As the global trade association for official destination marketing organizations, DMAI is working to support these communities in building DMOs designed to ensure not only their success in the global tourism landscape, but also as engaged stewards of their communities’ resources and quality of life. DMAI has contracted Solimar International and The International Institute for Tourism Studies (IITS) at the George Washington University to assist on the project. 

Over the next six months, DMAI and its partners will develop a toolkit entitled “How to Start a DMO” that will be aimed at community leaders looking to organize and consolidate private, public, and social sectors around the tourism industry under a new destination marketing and management organization. This initiative was made possible through a generous grant from the Destination & Travel Foundation.

Why this toolkit is needed?

The mission of the Destination & Travel Foundation is to enhance the destination marketing and travel professions through research, education, visioning and development of resources and partnerships for those efforts. All resources supported by the Destination & Travel Foundation have been largely focused on advancing and protecting members of the existing industry, with great success.

For DMAI’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation helped the association take a bold leadership step with a sizeable grant to support the DestinationNEXT initiative. DestinationNEXT executes on a broad vision for DMAI to provide practical, clear actions and strategies for sustainable success for DMOs in a rapidly changing landscape, culminating with a number of co-created transformational strategies and DMO prototypes based on the specific characteristics of their communities and destinations.

While the findings and implications of the DestinationNEXT Phase 1 report have indicated a wealth of opportunities for DMOs around the globe, the scenario model overlooks a significant opportunity within the evolving tourism landscape: emerging destinations currently without an already established DMO.

The proposed toolkit fills this gap of on-boarding emerging destinations into the destination marketing profession from the very beginning, to be further supported by existing programs that DMAI already supports.

A Timely Opportunity

An ever increasing number of destinations have opened up and invested in tourism, turning tourism into a key driver of socio-economic progress through export revenues, the creation of jobs and enterprises, and infrastructure development. 

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts that international tourist arrivals in the emerging economy destinations of Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Eastern Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East and Africa will grow at double the pace (+4.4% a year) of that in advanced economy destinations (+2.2% a year). As a result, arrivals in emerging economies are expected to exceed those in advanced economies by 2015. By 2030, 57% of international arrivals will be in emerging economy destinations (versus 30% in 1980) and 43% in advanced economy destinations (versus 70% in 1980).

The economic impact that tourism has on developing countries is even greater than that on developed nations. According to the UNWTO in its 2011 study, “Tourism and Poverty Alleviation,” tourism is one of the top two sources of export earnings in nearly half of the world’s least developed countries and can even account for over 25% of their GDP in some. 

The UNWTO also notes another trend in established destinations in Western Europe and North America towards consolidation of the travel and tourism industry. The organization notes in its 2013 Tourism in the Americas study that destinations even in developed economies are making tourism a priority on their economic development agendas and supporting the sector by making it possible to “design and implement public policies [that] allow the development of public, private and social sectors related to tourism.”

These communities – whether in developed or developing countries – are turning to tourism as a driver for socio-economic growth and stability. To harness the full array of benefits of the visitor economy, an organized and collective approach to the market is the most effective way forward. 

How will the toolkit be used

The DMO toolkit will be used as the precursor to DMAI’s Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP), encouraging destinations to lay the foundation for organizational excellence that eventually primes them directly to accreditation. The final output will entail an online learning tool with resources and case studies, designed to help community leaders looking to organize and consolidate private, public, and social sectors around the tourism industry under a new destination marketing and management organization. The resource will also help existing tourism authorities to enhance an institution to meet the requirements for the DMAP program.