Destination Management

Destination management consists of the coordinated management of all the elements that make up a tourism destination. Destination management takes a strategic approach to link-up these sometimes very separate elements for the better management of the destination. Joined up management can help to avoid overlapping functions and duplication of effort with regards to promotion, visitor services, training, business support and identify any management gaps that are not being addressed.

Destination management calls for a coalition of many organizations and interests working towards a common goal, ultimately being the assurance of the competitiveness and sustainability of the tourism destination. The Destination Management Organization’s (DMO) role should be to lead and coordinate activities under a coherent strategy in pursuit of this common goal.

Though DMOs have typically undertaken marketing activities, their remit is becoming far broader, to become a strategic leader in destination development. This is a vital ingredient for success in every tourism destination and many destinations now have DMOs to lead the way.

From a traditionally marketing and promotion focus the trend is to become leading organizations with a broader mandate which includes strategic planning, coordination and management of activities within an adequate governance structure with the integration of different stakeholders operating in the destination under a common goal. Destinations wherein such an organization is not still in place are increasingly creating or plan to create a DMO as the organizational entity to lead the way.

UNWTO has identified three areas of key performance in destination management at DMO level: Strategic Leadership, Effective Implementation and Efficient Governance.

UNWTO supports its Members and Destination Management/Marketing Organizations through the UNWTO.QUEST - a DMO Certification System. UNWTO.QUEST promotes quality and excellence in DMOs planning, management and governance of tourism, by means of capacity building. UNWTO.QUEST Certification evaluates the three areas of key performance in destination management at DMO level: Strategic Leadership, Effective Implementation and Efficient Governance. With a training and capacity building component, UNWTO.QUEST is a strategic tool which allows the DMOs to implement an improvement plan to achieve the criteria and standards of the Certification with the aim of enhancing their management processes and thus contribute to the competitiveness and sustainability of the destinations they represent.

Further information on UNWTO.QUEST Certification System is available here.



UNWTO Guidelines for Institutional Strengthening of  Destination Management Organization (DMOs) - Preparing DMOs for new challenges (2019) Many factors account for the increased focus on effective destination management, all of them urging destination management organizations (DMOs) to face and adapt to new challenges. From traditional marketing and promotion boards the trend is for these entities to increasingly enlarge their scope to become all embracing DMOs, aiming to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of destinations within a harmonious relationship between the residents and visitors.

These guidelines aim to stress the relevance of having a leading organizational entity at destination level and setting a sound framework of criteria and indicators for DMOs, based on the UNWTO.QUEST Certification; overall, to provide a set of recommendations for DMOs to improve their planning, managing and institutional governance.

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