Government unveils £4m radical restructure of England's DMOs

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Nigel Huddleston Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston

Tourism boards in England are to undergo a radical restructuring as the government aims to make it easier for planners to discover the country’s destinations.

The government wants a simpler structure where tourism boards, otherwise known as destination management organisations (DMOs), are a one-stop shop for visitors to find all they need to know about a local area.

The government is to provide £4 million for a new accreditation scheme that will highlight the best DMOs. Under the scheme, DMOs will be renamed Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs) to capture the wider strategic focus.

The funding will also be used to create a pilot in one region of the country, giving one top-tier DMO or a group of local DMOs the opportunity and investment to restructure under a new model, to show the best their region has to offer.

The changes come following last year’s independent review into DMOs, carried out by the chair of VisitEngland’s advisory board Nick de Bois. The de Bois review found that the landscape is over-crowded and fragmented, pointing to the 46 DMOs in the South East alone, which it says makes it confusing for tourists planning breaks and businesses looking to invest. De Bois recommended a tiering model for DMOs including multi-year core funding.

Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This new scheme will show people where to visit and help them plan the best possible trip, supporting our tourism industry to be bigger and better than before.

“At their best, DMOs can make a real difference to their local areas. Marketing Manchester has generated almost £400 million a year for its local economy in visitor spend as well as promoting new international air routes, and Cumbria Tourism was instrumental in winning the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Lake District National Park.”

Huddleston also explained why the pilot scheme was only regional at this stage.

“Whilst I realise it will be disappointing that we aren’t rolling out the de Bois funding proposals nationwide at this point, we also need to be as confident as we can be that public sector investment will be value for money,” he said. “De Bois highlights that there are gaps in information on existing DMO performance and the evidence that has been collected suggests the DMO structures in some parts of England are not currently mature enough to take on significant public funds. Furthermore, we need more robust evidence that state funding of Destination Development Partnerships drives up private sector investment and growth.

“My hope is that our pilot will serve as a proof of concept which, when combined with the rollout of the accreditation system, will give us the information we need to proceed with confidence at a national level.”

Sheona Southern, MD of Marketing Manchester, said: “We have long recognised that there needs to be better connection between national policy and local delivery and we hope that this initiative will be the start of creating an effective tourism structure required to make England competitive globally and put tourism at the centre of local policy making.”

Gill Haigh, MD of Cumbria Tourism, said: “DMOs are the glue that bring together the huge array of parties in an area that make up its visitor economy. There has been overwhelming support for the outcomes of the De Bois review which really captured the opportunities to sustainably grow our visitor economy, as well as some of the barriers, but importantly offered Government a clear route forward.

“Cumbria Tourism therefore welcomes the announcement from Government today that it intends to simplify and strengthen the structure and looks forward to hearing the finer detail and to ensure we can maximise our potential and work with DCMS, Visit England and partners locally to support sustainable visitor growth, investment and business support.”

Paul Harvey
Written By
Paul Harvey
M&IT editor Paul Harvey is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. He began his career in the local press, working for various titles across the north. Since joining M&IT in 2013, he has become a trusted and respected voice in the sector, championing event professionals and reporting on all aspects of the events industry for the brand.

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