My Honourable Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Sport and Tourism, Nigel Huddleston MP, has made the following Statement:
On 1st March 2021 the Government launched an independent review of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) in England. The review aims to examine and assess how such organisations are funded and structured, and how they perform their roles. The review will seek 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.
Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) are a common feature of local and regional tourism landscapes worldwide, and play an important role in the English tourism ecosystem. There is an estimated 150 DMOs in England, although these vary substantially in terms of activity, size, geographical area covered, funding models, structure, impact and the degree to which they work with both the central Government and the British Tourist Authority (BTA, trading as VisitBritain and VisitEngland).
The Government recognises that the tourism sector has been among the worst-hit industries by COVID-19 and that 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. Simultaneously, the pandemic has highlighted strong examples of standardisation, collaboration and more agile working among DMOs, and the Government is aware that DMOs will have an important role to play in supporting the English tourism sector recover in the medium and long term, in line with Government priorities around economic recovery and Levelling Up.
Against such a background, this independent review will seek to produce a detailed examination of the DMO landscape in England, focussing on a) current funding models; b) organisational structures and c) performance levels (both in respect to before the Covid-19 pandemic and since the start of 2020).
It will then try and establish whether the status quo is the most efficient, economically justifiable way of organising local and regional English tourism sectors. It will also look at whether these structures maximise opportunities for supporting policy priorities on a local, regional and national scale, and, where relevant, internationally. These priorities include sector recovery, Levelling Up and economic growth, as well as various local and regional priorities that are likely to differ from area to area.
The review will be led by Nick de Bois, the current Chair of the VisitEngland Advisory Board. He will be acting in an independent capacity, supported by a DCMS Secretariat, and will aim to deliver a report with recommendations to the Government in Summer 2021. It will then be for the Government to respond to the report in due course. The Review marks an initial step in the Government’s development of a Tourism Recovery Plan.