Definition of DMO as It Relates to Travel and Tourism

Tourism boards

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In travel and tourism terms, DMO stands for Destination Marketing Organization. They represent destinations and help to develop their long-term travel and tourism strategy.

DMOs come in various forms and have labels such as "Tourism Board," "Convention and Visitors Bureau," and "Tourism Authority." They are typically part of a political branch or subdivision in charge of promoting a specific destination and enticing and servicing MICE travel.

What They Do

DMOs play a key role in the long-term development of a destination, by formulating an effective travel and tourism strategy.

For the visitor, DMOs serve as a gateway to a destination. They offer the most current information about a destination’s attractions. They're a one-stop-shop, maintaining a physical presence where visitors can engage with staff, obtain maps, brochures, information, and promotional books and magazines formulated by the DMO and its clients.

A DMOs online presence is particularly important. Statistics show that leisure travelers search a number of online sources during their trip-planning activities. DMO websites that maintain current calendars, list of hotels, events, and other practical travel information are extremely valuable to prospective leisure visitors.

Web pages dedicated to specific "tourist routes" or "themed visits" are particularly effective for attracting visitors interested in high-adventure, culinary, golf, wellness, or other particular types of travel. 

Every DMO uses strategies that conform to its own budget and targeted markets. As a rule, MICE travel tends to be a primary focus for destinations with the requisite infrastructure. Convention sales generate the largest return for local tax authorities, so DMO resources are usually skewed in favor of attracting this business.

Nonetheless, DMOs must formulate campaigns that appeal to all travelers, not simply business meetings. They represent the hotels, attractions, facilities, restaurants, and other services that all travelers necessarily interact with.


DMO clients, i.e., the leisure visitor, business traveler, and meeting planners, don't pay for services. That's because DMOs are typically funded through hotel occupancy taxes, membership dues, improvement districts, and other government resources.

DMO members, such as hotels, attractions, and historic districts obviously have a keen interest in promoting travel and tourism. Not only does it provide jobs and bring in tax dollars for infrastructure improvements, but it also heightens the profile of a destination.

A vibrant tourism scene increases the likelihood that additional restaurants, stores, festivals, cultural, and sporting events will be attracted and take root in the destination.

At a Glance

  • DMOs oversee, create, and implement marketing campaigns and promotions to inspire travelers to visit their destination
  • DMOs advocate for increased investment to enhance the visitor experience.
  • DMOs formulate campaigns to attract conventions, meetings, and events to their destination. They work closely with meeting planners to plan events that display the destination and its attractions in the most favorable and enticing manner.
  • DMOs interact with leisure, vacation, and MICE travelers, meeting professionals, conventioneers, business travelers, tour operators, and travel agents with both FIT and group travel clientele.


Travel and tourism are one of the fastest-growing economic sectors on the globe. It plays a vital role in the development of emerging destinations. According to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry employs close to 100 million people, representing some 3 percent of global employment. Without question, it pays to promote travel and tourism. 

According to the leading industry group, the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), each $1 spent in destination marketing generates $38 in visitor spending across international markets.

It's not surprising, then that some $4 billion annually is spent on funding and financing DMOs worldwide.

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