Destination Management Organisations (DMO)
26th February 2016
Implementation of the DMO concept in Croatian tourism
Competition between tourism destinations on national, regional and local levels is intensifing due to the pressure of globalization. Accordingly, Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) have to constantly re-evaluate existing tourism offers to reposition themselves in a highly competitive tourism market.
Destinations are one of the most difficult entities to manage because of diverse, and often conflicting intrests of different stakeholder groups. The primary aim of strategic tourism planning is to bring stakeholders together and provide them with tools to work collaboratively to transform a set of attractions, activities and services into a cohesive and compelling travel experience, or Destination. The main role of a DMO is fulfilling marketing and promotional tasks, coordinating long-term destination planning and management, as well as finding the right balance between competing and challenging environmental, social and economic goals such as preserving natural resources, increasing destination appeal and reputation as sustainable, fulfilling the needs of visitors and maximizing tourism's economic contributions and the well-being of local populations and public and private stakeholders.
The key to the success and sustainability of destination development effort is ongoing management. The most crucial functions of a DMO are Experience Development, Tourism Branding and Ensuring Brand Integrity, Customer Relationship Management, Representation and Financial Sustainability.
Croatian tourist destinations are present in the networked international tourist market and should adjust to such market conditions by means of improving the competitiveness of their own tourist offer. An important precondition for such offer improvement is an efficient system of destination management. Implementation of the destination management principles in Croatia is at an insufficient level of development. At this point destination management has not been developed, as it should be.
The Ministry of Tourism is directed toward finding and defining possible models for the establishment of functional organisations for destination management in the Croatian tourist destinations. The existence of tourist community systems is taken into consideration, as an existing tourist supporting infrastructure, but also their inadequacy for the fulfilment of the tasks set before a DMO. This is one of the aimes set by the Croatian Tourism Development Strategy by the 2020 is the transformation of Tourist Boards in DMOs, in order to strengthen the development of destinations at the regional level.
With the new Law on Tourist Boards planned for 2015, new possibilities will emerge for a wider comprehension of tourist boards, independently of possible geographical or administrative zones. Regional tourist boards will be established by DMO models as a Regional Management Organization (RMO). RMO as a regional tourist board will be responsible for strategic planning and development, marketing, system management and research at the regional level. The establishment of the RMO provides the possibility of association of regions in this case using a unique visual identity and shared marketing activities, such as design and pre-press promotional materials, web platform, participating at tourist fairs.
Within these RMOs, local tourist boards will be established as a Destination Management Organization which will bring stakeholders from public, private and civil sectors in the area together, with the purpose of strategic and operational destination management and achieving a common development vision.
An attempt to create the zone model of destination management, which represents a detachment from the existing destination structures, but also a step forward towards coordination according to the European models was made in Istria. By activating the Istrian Tourism Development Agency, a huge step towards the new trend of destination management was made. Leading tourism authorities in Istria have recognised the rich offer and attractions, which were re-packaged into quality tourist products and initiated stimulation programmes for tourism development. Other Croatian destinations have not managed to carry out the coordination on this level yet. However, there have been some partial attempts to implement segments of destination management within the existing systems of tourist boards and local government.