In 2019, English tourism generated £106 billion a year and employed over 2 million people. Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) play an important role in supporting the English tourism ecosystem and in the competitiveness of country's tourism sector.
The tourism sector has been among the worst-hit industries by COVID-19 and Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) have been particularly hard hit, especially those reliant on commercial income. Many DMOs have been at risk of closure at a time when their business support role has become more important. In addition, significant changes to the nation's economic/political local landscape are on the horizon, suggesting now is a good opportunity to carry out a full-scale examination and assessment of the English tourism sector.
This review aims to examine and assess how Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) across England are funded and structured, and how they perform their roles, in order to 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. The structure of the national tourism boards, VisitEngland and VisitBritain, will only be in scope of the review where it is relevant to the structures and funding of DMOs.
The review will be led by the current Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board, Nick de Bois, acting in an independent capacity and reporting directly to the Secretary of State. An experienced advisory panel will be convened to assist him with his review.
A diverse and representative spread of as many DMOs as possible will be consulted as well as other local bodies/structures with an overlapping interest in the sector. Views will also be sought from a wide range of tourism stakeholders, such as hotels, attractions, event venues, hospitality venues, heritage organisations, the National Parks, local transport bodies, industry bodies/trade associations, VisitBritain/VisitEngland, Arms-Length Bodies and Executive Agencies.
The review will take place over spring 2021, with a written report, including recommendations, delivered to the Secretary of State by Summer 2021.
Depending on the findings of this examination, the review will make recommendations, to Government, the Tourism Sector or both as appropriate, on:
- Whether DMOs might be structured or funded differently, and if so how any proposals might maximise post-COVID recovery and long-term success;
- 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,
- How DMOs should best engage with, and be engaged by, VisitEngland, VisitBritain and DCMS, as well as wider Government/public bodies where relevant (e.g. Arts Council)
The final report will be published on gov.uk and laid before both Houses. The Government will respond to the review's recommendations, with the response led by the Secretary of State and the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage.
A written consultation process will be launched shortly.