Tag: destinationmanagementorganization

A beautiful sunset in Wakatobi, Indonesia

Developing a tourism management plan is challenging for any destination management organization. Working for a destination management organization across multiple islands is even more! Since each island is different, each one is prioritizing different things. Between plastic trash pollution, climate change, access to clean water, and food security, there are many problems that are on the agenda to solve. Wakatobi, a group of four main islands in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, face these complex issues in pursuit of sustainable tourism development.

Developing a Tourism Management Plan next to the beautiful ocean where diving is common on Sulawesi, Indonesia
Photo by Lelie Liana

Wakatobi is a rising tourism destination made up of four main islands in Southeast Indonesia. The name “Wakatobi” is derived from the first two letters of each island’s name. Wangi-wangi is the main administrative island and sets the policies for the other three islands; Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. A hidden gem of tourism, it is described as one of the 10 “new Balis” for tourism by many destination management companies. The beautiful white sand beaches, seemingly infinite availability of fresh seafood, and biodiversity give Wakatobi characteristics of a tropical island that is rare today, prime for sustainable development. It’s also commonly referred to as “The heart of the Coral Reef Triangle”, and you’ll soon understand why. After spending 18 months in this unforgettable travel destination, I understand why the name translates to “enjoying the sunset”.

A beautiful sunset in Wakatobi, Indonesia

By marveling at the beautiful pictures above, most wouldn’t have thought of the problems they may be facing, much less imagined an approach for tourism planning to deal with those complex issues. Here are the four main questions to consider and answer that can help you in your destination management development process:

  • What is Inter Island Development?
  • How can mission goals be identified?
  • How to pick a decision maker?
  • How can you promote sustainable development?

1.What is Inter Island Development, and how should you address it?

As with other destination development challenges in islands, Wakatobi also faces the inter-island development issue. This issue is caused by the diverse character of people on each island, creating the need for different approaches for each island’s development. People who live on the main island of Wangi-Wangi Island have a different language and lifestyle than people on every other island. The question becomes: how can a destination management organization address these diversities?

It is a dilemma – how can the quality of life of the native population be improved while acknowledging we may not all share the same vision due to the diversity of stakeholders.

While each island has its issues, there will always be one more prevalent than the others, and that should be focused on uniting each place under one organization. Even if everyone has a different language, character, or mission, focusing on this key point will bring everyone together.

To start, identify the most prevalent issues in the community. Take a look around you and determine if the community is living in wellness with regard to tourism management. Is the community involved in the tourism management industry? Are there many artisans from the local community? Try to talk with them and find out what issues they may face. This can be done by conducting key stakeholders mapping, and categorizing each issue under a key-stakeholder. Each issue should belong to the main category, and in-depth interviews can be conducted if needed.

a beautiful image of the sunset on Wakatobi, Indonesia a great tourism destination
Beautiful sunsets everyday in Wakatobi. Photo courtesy of Lelie Liana.

2.  How Can We Identify Destination Mission Goals?

Once you have finished mapping the key destination stakeholders and identified the main issues, it is easier to identify the incentives that could bring the stakeholders together. In Sustainable Tourism Development, we call these the destination mission goals. Once you can deliver the incentives to everyone, the challenge of finding a destination management leader begins. Yes, everyone now understands the key issue and what the incentives are once the issue is fixed, but who will decide now to take action? Everyone can’t be a decision-maker, so it’s important to pick one or a few to standardize the issue so everyone understands.

Your next job is to figure out who is the highest official position in that place that is capable of being a “decision-maker”. Deliver the incentives to this person, then let them work on their way to spread the incentives to the larger target in your destination.

Beautiful white sand beach with not many visitors around on Wakatobi, Indonesia
Photo Courtesy of Lelie Liana

3. How to Pick a Decision Maker in Destination Management?

Imagine yourself now with your friend in a jungle, where there is an immense lion that’s ready to attack you. You know you’re in a dangerous situation, and of course, you know that your friend has no idea how to save you. The issue here is that you don’t have time or resources to ask for help, but you know exactly what the condition is. “Who does what?”

This analogy relates to the topic of destination management, where the key stakeholders have already identified both the issue and the key actor as decision-makers. However, there is a missing part about how the plan will be made; the system. The system was created to ensure everything will be run officially, with certain tasks and roles. Those in the system need to understand their roles, so there will be no overlap with others.

Wakatobi, as previously explained, is made up of 4 islands with differences in their communities and culture. To ensure a solution for everyone in the islands, the Bupati (Regent) improved their ecosystem for sustainable tourism development by creating a Tourism Governance Forum. Under this forum, there was an Inter-Island Working Group that each island used to deliver their main tourism issue. This ecosystem worked because it was headed under by the Bupati and acknowledged by the Ministry of Tourism. Their centralization also included official assignments, roles, objectives, and programs.

fish market in Wakatobi, Indonesia. a big potential for tourism
by author Lelie Liana

4. How Can You Promote Sustainable Development Through Developing a Tourism Management Plan?

Sustainable Tourism Development should always be spearheaded by the destination when thinking of sustainability. Destination refers to the ecosystem, key stakeholders, issue, program, and goals of an area. When Wakatobi created Forum Tata Kelola Pariwisata, it created a system that worked for itself. Just because this form of Sustainable Tourism Development is working for inter-island communities doesn’t mean it works everywhere. If needed, destinations can adapt these 4 “How” questions from Wakatobi to fit their own needs.

Interested in developing a tourism management plan for your destination? Take one of our courses to learn more about DMO Development, and learn from other case studies how you can ensure sustainable development. Learn more from the tourism master plans we created in the Northern Great Plains, Republic of Georgia, the Cayman Islands.

Photo courtesy of Lelie Liana.

 

What is a DMO by Solimar International

Why do some destinations thrive, while others do not? All global destinations compete for visitors and money. They need the support of destination management organizations (DMOs) to help market, manage, succeed. But how and why? This article answers the question: what is a DMO and why the tourism industry should care about them.

So, what is a DMO?

DMO stands for destination management organization, though these are often referred to as destination marketing organizations. Ever wondered what a DMO is and what do they do? It is important to know about destination management first. The tourism industry is a trillion-dollar global business. Over 1.2 billion people travel abroad every year to experience the world’s diverse cultures and physical environments. Serious logistics are in play with this.  

According to the UNWTO, destination management is the coordinated and thoughtful planning of all elements that make up a tourism destination. This can involve anything from attracting visitors to providing amenities for them to enjoy during their stay in town – whether it’s free Wi-Fi or a stocked convenience store. 

What a destination management organization (DMO) does is represent the voice of its destination to potential visitors. It works with travel trade partners to provide travelers with information about the destination before they decide where to go on vacation. 

DMOs also bring together organizations that serve all aspects of the visitor experience – from lodging providers, attractions operators, restaurants, and retailers – so that they can share insights into what makes their community stand out as a tourist destination. Destinations with a strong DMO will be more competitive, have increased visibility, and have better economic performance than those without one. This careful planning ensures strategic, long term success of a tourism destination. This in-depth coordination moves beyond marketing, and is the reason why the M in DMO has been more recently referred to as management instead of marketing.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Destination Management Organization?

Successful DMOs and destination managers play an essential role in managing tourism at the local level to help attract tourists and support businesses within its boundaries. They’re also responsible for promoting it through positioning statements, branding campaigns, high-quality product development, effective communication with stakeholders (e.g., residents), and maximizing financial resources available from both public and private sources, while ensuring value for money spent on projects that meet overall objectives.

Contrary to popular belief, the overall objective for a DMO isn’t only to bring more tourists to the destination. It is to make tourism more sustainable and thus enjoyable for visitors for years to come. Hence, in a nutshell, DMOs engage in a variety of activities that will help promote and develop sustainable travel practices, including:

  • Educating travelers about the destination’s attractions and offerings
  • Marketing through targeted campaigns
  • Working with other organizations on issues related to sustainability to achieve common goals
  • Addressing resident concerns related to tourism

Image showing the aftermath of beachgoers not cleaning up after themselves. Shows what currently occurs in areas with no framework or organization to prevent wasteful behavior without a DMO

Why Should All Destinations Have a DMO?

Destinations are always looking for ways to stand out from the competition, but to do so, they need both short and long-term strategies. And that’s what all popular DMOs have. A destination management organization works with tourism boards and convention and visitors bureaus. It has a proven track record for generating awareness of destinations among tourists and travelers, which is why all destinations should care about DMOs.

Destinations don’t always receive their fair share of attention, funding, and investment from governments and corporations which can lead to a lack of tourism and growth opportunities.

However, destinations are an essential part of the world’s economy. Destination management organizations (DMOs) exist for this reason: to create economic prosperity in communities through promotion, strategic planning, and marketing efforts that attract tourists while ensuring that these visitors have a memorable experience.

The Importance of Destination Management Organizations

DMOs are committed to sustainable tourism and are of critical importance because they:

1. Take Advantage Of Their Destination’s Unique Potential

Every destination has something different and unique to offer. DMOs bring out that exclusivity to the front to portray the destination as a better attraction than other ones.

Simplification of tourism with different continents highlighted Colorful image that drives the point of tourism home while also drawing eye attention with colors

2. Conduct Market Research

Knowing what to do, how to do, and when to do it is an art. And DMOs are the masters at it. These organizations are able to conduct market research through their short and long-term strategies to further elevate the destination’s status for years to come.

3.  Implement Destination Marketing Strategies

For destinations, it is especially important to be visible online to guide potential visitors. Destination management organizations focus on marketing strategies to promote a destination’s events, products, services, landmarks, and attractions.

DMOs are responsible for promoting their city’s tourism industry through strategic advertising campaigns that reach target audiences with specific messages or information. This strategic destination content takes the form of social media, print collateral, co-sponsoring events, hosting influencers, working with the local chamber of commerce, and more! Look into the ways your local DMO promotes visitors coming to your home.

4. Drive Economic Growth in a Sustainable Way

In the 21st century, a sustainable economy is more important than ever. As travel becomes accessible to a wider range of people across all income brackets and cultures, destinations must promote tourism in a way that their economic growth remains sustainable. And that’s what DMOs do.

Sign depicting a common slogan directed towards tourists, encouraging them to be mindful of litter and leaving things behind. Emphasizes want for sustainable tourism by stakeholders (native people). it shows the importance of a DMO

5. Attract Investment

Every destination needs to be the best it can be, and that includes marketing its own community to attract investors. Hence, DMOs are one of the most effective ways for destinations to market themselves in exactly the right way to draw more investment feasibly! This requires a collaborative approach from both public and private stakeholders.

6. Engage With Stakeholders To Develop More Favorable Conditions

DMOs take everyone on the path to sustainable and successful tourism. They not only cater to travelers, but also serve as an interface between visitors and local businesses; they can help develop new products or improve existing ones to meet the needs of both tourists and locals.

What is a DMO by Solimar International

Conclusion

Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) are the backbone of tourism destinations. They exist to promote destinations, attract visitors, and develop a regional economy. DMOs are responsible for everything from attracting major sporting events to promoting local festivals. They work with businesses to help them understand what travelers need to have an enjoyable experience. Read more about why a DMO is important to a destination

Interested in how we can help you develop a DMO for your destination? Contact us to learn more, and check out ATKOMA, the DMO we helped develop in Atauro Island, Timor-Leste

Written by Daniel Segura and Zane Hartog

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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