Tourism expert calls for ‘Super DMOs’

The destination management organisation for Kent and Hertfordshire has warned that council cuts means that tourist boards must find new funding models.

David Curtis-Brignell, deputy chief executive of Go To Places – which runs Visit Kent and Visit Herts – outlined the scale of the threat at The Tourism Consultants’ Network Conference in Manchester.

He told UK tourism delegates that demands on local authorities for services such as social care provision mean that the 53% cut in tourism funding over the past years will only get worse.

This has been compounded by the fact that there has been a £15.7 million cut in government funding for councils between 2010 and 2020.

He said: “Destination management organisations (DMOs) can no longer rely on traditional sources of long-term funding or traditional models of operation and will have to look at new operating and funding models going forwards, which will include outsourcing in order to maintain a tourism service which is affordable.

“At Go To Places, we see the future of the DMO funding model as a mix of outsourcing and smarter working.

“The solution to funding uncertainty lies in collaborating with other destinations to create ‘Super DMOs’ which will bring much needed economies of scale.”

The Go To Places’ destination management model has been developed through its 17 years’ experience as Kent’s DMO.

This model is now being delivered through other portfolio businesses, such as Visit Herts in Hertfordshire.

Go To Places is the only organisation delivering an official DMO in more than one county.

It offers expertise on funding bids; helps tourism and leisure businesses to better understand their market and audience; and shares marketing campaigns.