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DMOs look to sustainable future as 75 per cent have budgets slashed

Almost three-quarters of destination marketing organisations (DMOs) in Europe have had their budgets slashed in 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Around a quarter had seen their annual budgets fall by more than 50 per cent, according to the 2020 DMO Funding Survey published by association European Cities Marketing (ECM).

In response ECM has called on policymakers to recognise the need for recovery funding if DMOs are to play their crucial role in the rebuilding of Europe’s urban travel and tourism sector.

The association of more than 120 DMOs in Europe said the new-normal could portend an era where DMOs take a clearer stand on balanced and holistic tourism development in the cities.

ECM said that ‘negative budget impacts’ on this scale had ‘not been seen before’ in the DMO community – not even during the global financial crisis from 2009-2011.

All sources of income (commercial, tax revenue, membership contributions etc.) had experienced falling incomes, according to the survey published with Danish strategy firm Group NAO.

Petra Stusek, ECM President, said: “It is crucial local, national and EU-level decision makers understand that the crisis has slammed many DMOs financially. If we do not act now, and remember to allocate a fair share of recovery funding and stimulus packages for the destination management and marketing organisations, they won’t be able to deliver on their crucial role of coordinating, facilitating and executing on the reboot of Europe’s travel and tourism sector.”

Despite this challenging scenario, DMOs were almost in total agreement that the crisis will lead industry towards a more sustainable future (89% agrees partly or completely). Also, most of the DMOs felt that the crisis has strengthened their political capital. Rebuilding tourism is a political priority in many destinations and DMOs were helping to coordinate the recovery.

“ECM will use these important results to advocate and act collectively on behalf of its members, actively supporting efforts to ensure the best possible framework for recovery,” said Stusek.