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10 Mar 2021

'Much-needed' independent review launched into Destination Management Organisations

The UK government has announced an independent review to assess the way destination management organisations (DMO) operate across England.

The review, led by Nick de Bois, chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board, will look at how DMOs are funded and structured – and how they perform their roles.

The review will establish whether there may be "a more efficient and effective model" for supporting English tourism at the regional level – and if so what that model may be.

de Bois will be supported by the DCMS and will report his findings to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State.

"The review team will speak to as many English DMOs as possible, ensuring consultation with a diverse and representative spread of these organisations in terms of geographical location, size and nature of funding streams," the DCMS said in a statement.

"Depending on the findings of this examination, the review will need to make recommendations about whether DMOs might be structured or funded differently, and if so how any proposals might maximise post-COVID-19 recovery and long-term success.

"It will also look to outline what the role of DMOs should be, bearing in mind existing other local structures such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, Mayoral Combined Authorities, local authorities and other similar local/regional bodies, and where these might intersect."

Most DMOs have evolved independently since the abolition of the Regional Tourist Boards and the Regional Development Agencies in England.

They have the leading role in marketing and developing tourism destinations, but have had their funding severely cut by cash-strapped local authorities in recent years.

As a result, many DMOs are finding themselves under-funded and, in some cases, largely inactive.

According to Ken Robinson CBE, former chair of the Tourism Alliance and the Tourism Society, "the industry is keen to engage with the review, which is very welcome and urgent".

"It was essential and called for even before the severe impacts of COVID on domestic and international tourism," Robinson told Attractions Management.

"The opportunities our businesses offer to rebuild the economy sustainably must be fully appreciated by the Government.

"The potential economic gains are great, but tourism is internationally competitive. So the industry must ensure the review justifies the essential investment that is required for Visit England, and through them to support all DMOs."

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