5 Ways DMOs Can Turn Tourism into a Community-Shared Value

By on August 08, 2023

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) play a pivotal role in promoting and showcasing the unique attractions and experiences of their respective regions. In recent years, the focus has shifted from purely marketing destinations to fostering sustainable and community-driven tourism practices. At the recent Destinations International (DI) Annual Convention, I discussed the importance of making tourism a community-shared value with DI President Don Welsh. 

To truly thrive, DMOs must align their strategies with the concept of community-shared value, where tourism benefits are distributed evenly among local residents, businesses and visitors alike. In this blog post, we will explore five simple yet effective ways DMOs can turn tourism into a community-shared value, creating a harmonious and sustainable relationship between tourists and the communities they visit.

Engage Local Stakeholders in Decision-Making

One of the fundamental steps in turning tourism into a community-shared value is involving local stakeholders in the decision-making process. DMOs should seek input from community members, businesses and civic leaders when developing tourism strategies and initiatives. Don’t tune your residents out! Regular town hall meetings, surveys and workshops can help gather insights into the needs, concerns and aspirations of the community.

By engaging locals, DMOs can better understand the nuances of their region’s culture, heritage and natural assets, which can then be highlighted in marketing campaigns. This approach not only ensures that tourism offerings align with the community’s values but also empowers locals to take pride in their culture, leading to improved visitor experiences.

Promote Authentic Experiences

Authenticity is a significant factor that attracts travelers seeking genuine connections with the places they visit. DMOs should collaborate with local businesses to offer authentic experiences that showcase the area’s unique traditions, crafts, and culinary delights. Encouraging locally-owned small businesses, artisans and tour operators can lead to a more equitable distribution of tourism revenue within the community.

For example, a DMO promoting a coastal destination could support and market guided tours led by fishermen, providing insights into their centuries-old techniques and challenges. This approach not only generates income for the fishermen but also creates memorable experiences for visitors, fostering a deeper appreciation for the community’s way of life — as well as offers locals a cool experience!

Focus on Sustainable Tourism Practices

Sustainable tourism practices are vital in safeguarding the environment and preserving the cultural heritage of a destination. DMOs can lead the charge by promoting eco-friendly initiatives, such as waste reduction, energy conservation, and wildlife protection. By collaborating with local businesses, hotels and restaurants, DMOs can implement sustainable practices that benefit the entire community.

DMOs can also educate tourists about responsible travel and encourage them to be mindful of their impact on the environment and local culture. This can be achieved through brochures, digital content and social media campaigns that highlight sustainable travel tips and guidelines.

Support Local Community Development

A significant way to turn tourism into a community-shared value is by investing in local community development projects. DMOs can allocate a portion of their revenue to support initiatives that enhance education, healthcare, infrastructure and other essential services for residents.

By demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of the community, DMOs can earn the trust and support of locals. This positive relationship can lead to increased collaboration between residents and the tourism industry, fostering a more inclusive and sustainable future for all stakeholders.

Measure and Communicate Impact

Communication is key! DMOs should regularly measure the social, economic and environmental impact of tourism on the community and share this data transparently. This practice can help identify areas of improvement and ensure that the benefits of tourism are reaching all members of the community equitably.

Sharing impact data with the public can also help build awareness and appreciation for the positive contributions of tourism. DMOs can use various communication channels, such as websites, social media, and community events, to keep locals informed about the value tourism brings to the region.

In conclusion, DMOs have a unique opportunity to transform tourism into a community-shared value by prioritizing local engagement, promoting authentic experiences, embracing sustainable practices, supporting community development, and communicating impact. By nurturing a sense of ownership and pride among residents, DMOs can create a thriving and sustainable tourism ecosystem that benefits both visitors and the community they visit. When tourism becomes a shared value, destinations can thrive as vibrant and harmonious places that offer enriching experiences for all involved.