Antonia Stratford
29th March 2021

Last week, The Tourism Society held a very thought provoking and well attended discussion on the future of English Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) in response to the Government’s recently announced (and very welcome) consultation into the future sustainability and structure of these organisations.

Attendees heard from Nick Brook-Sykes, Director of Tourism at Marketing Manchester, James Mason, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, our CEO Deirdre Wells and David Andrews, CEO of Visit Wiltshire who discussed and raised the following key points:

  • The ‘DMO landscape’ is very fragmented (there are more than 150 DMOs throughout England) and the pandemic has demonstrated more than ever that the current DMO model is unsustainable for many organisations – particularly for those that rely heavily or entirely on subscriptions and funding from the private sector
  • The DMO structure needs to be more strategic (possibly with a set of principles) and if not already - needs to be joined up with other policy areas that impact the visitor economy. This in turn will help Government (both national and regional) to meet many of its policy objectives such as the levelling up and zero carbon agenda
  • Collectively – we need to redefine the definition of a visitor so it encompasses leisure tourism and those who travel and visit for business and study purposes
  • There are some great examples of collaboration but DMOs can also compete with each other on marketing. Would fewer, bigger more strategic DMOs be the answer or DMOs grouped together along thematic lines or both?
  • All agreed that there needs to be greater efficiencies in terms of research and procurement.
  • DMOs are a vital part of the UK economy helping to attract visitors to destinations and also being a source of local knowledge and a bridge to tourism businesses on the ground
  • Core funding should ideally come from the public sector and not be project based so that DMOs are always able to deliver business support to the local visitor economy

Go To Places will be submitting its views to the Government on the future of DMOs by the deadline of 28 April.  Have your say on the future of English tourism by taking part in the consultation here.