Structure of tourism in England

Collaboration. Development. Growth. Since 2010 the structure of economic development and tourism has changed dramatically, particularly in response to Government policy on local economic growth.

39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have now been established across England, with responsibility for driving economic growth in their areas and working in partnership with key sectors and stakeholders. In LEP areas where tourism is a recognised tool for driving wider economic growth, work is underway on specific projects and initiatives in partnership with Destination Organisations who manage tourism locally.

In some areas of the country, a single entity is created to coordinate the management of the destination. The most common term for them is Destination Organisation, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, handling everything from management to marketing. They also coordinate the wide range of local stakeholders, including the tourism business community, local authorities, business improvement districts, transport operators, visitor information providers, major landowners, cultural bodies, retail associations and local community groups.


Destination Management Organisations

Destinations are disparate and multifaceted, host to numerous stakeholders with their own specific needs. The organisations responsible for the local visitor economy can also be varied. They might be public sector bodies such as local authorities with definitive boundaries, private companies, or partnerships between the public and private sector working across various geographies.

Well-managed destinations are more likely to sustain investment, business growth and employment without having a long-term detrimental effect on the environment or local population. The best-managed destinations are also likely to attract inward investment across a broader range of sectors, as well as value-added jobs and new talent. Making them great places to live and work as well as visit.

From promotional activity through to research and insights, we help destinations grow their local economies through tourism. Of the various tools we advocate to help generate growth in the visitor economy, the most effective are destination management plans. These help create an integrated, sustainable and long-term approach to destination management.

Find your nearest Destination Management Organisation in England.


Local Enterprise Partnerships

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are voluntary collaborations between local authorities and businesses. They were formed in 2011 by local partners at the invitation of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). 

We've been nominated as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) policy lead for the visitor economy for LEPs. This means meeting regularly with the LEP Network to share intelligence and best practice on LEPs and the visitor economy. 


The primary function of LEPs, of which there are currently 38 in operation, is to determine economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within local areas.

All LEPs have developed a Strategic Economic Plan and European Investment Strategy that sets out priorities for how their government funding will be targeted to deliver growth and jobs. This funding will be used to leverage further public and private sector investment into their areas.

LEPs play an important role in the growth of the local visitor economy by:

  • Encouraging and reducing barriers to inward investment
  • Developing infrastructure projects
  • Supporting businesses to thrive and grow
  • Up-skilling the local population

More information on how LEPs function can be found on the LEP network website or website.