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Destination marketing and destination management in Tourism Essay

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Updated: Jan 22nd, 2020


Tourism is an essential socioeconomic sector of all world economies. It earns the government foreign exchange, revenue and creates employment directly and indirectly for the citizenry (Ashley et al., 2007, p.8).

Tourism encourages development of infrastructure, as well as social amenities in places with tourism potential within a country, region, continent, or village, which in turn affects positively other socioeconomic sectors of an economy.

Tourism fosters international consciousness through tourists’ appreciation and understanding of other peoples’ cultures, which is requisite for maintenance of international unity, peace, and security. Owing to the numerous social and economic benefits that accrue from tourism, proper and professional management of a country’s tourism sector is prerequisite for success.

Destination management and destination marketing are essentially the pillars of the overall successful management of the tourism sector. Even though in reality destination management and destination marketing complement one another, the two concepts refer to two different processes.

The purpose of this task is to discuss reasons why misunderstanding of the concepts of destination marketing and destination management leads to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts. The paper is organized into five main parts viz. an introduction followed by a literature review on tourism, destination, destination management, and destination marketing.

The second main part is an analysis of concepts of destination management and destination marketing. The third part is a discussion of impacts of misunderstanding of concepts destination management and destination marketing and finally a conclusion and recommendations part.

Literature Review

The success of a destination in terms of reaping fruits of its tourism potential is certainly an outcome of proper and professional management of matters tourism. Therefore, a country’s destination management and destination marketing organizations play a critical role in facilitating improved attraction of visitors internally and from foreign countries (School of Travel Industry Management, 2006, p.7).

Destination management is a process of raising the quality of services in order to achieve visitor satisfaction and sustainable tourism planning that encompasses control of impacts of tourism (Jamal & Robinson, 2003, p.449). Destination marketing is an integral part of destination management that involves informing potential and current tourists about a destination so as to persuade them to visit (Wahab et al., 1976).

In tourism management studies, concepts destination management and destination marketing though different tends to be used interchangeably. This misconception has led to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts. In this section, we shall look at what different scholars have written about these two concepts.


Tourism refers to the human activities and relations emerging from the going and staying of people away from their usual home surroundings for a range of reasons. These purposes may include business, leisure, and recreation (Ana, 2008, p. 918; Franklin, 2003, p. 3; Cooper, 2008, p.4).

According to the World Tourism Organization, as cited in Ana (2008), a tourist is a person who goes to places far from his/her normal environment for a time exceeding twenty-four hours.

In the same light, this visiting should not be more than one successive year of leisure, business, and other reasons linked to the carrying out of a work activity for which a visitor receives a salary within the area visited. Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest developing economic sectors of the international economy (Earth Summit, 2002, p.1).


Destination is a fundamental component of a country’s tourism system because virtually all tourism activities occur at destinations (Ana, 2008, p. 919). According to Pike (2004, p. 91), destination refers to places that attract tourists for a short-term stay.

Destinations vary from cities to villages, states to provinces, continents to countries to purposively built resort areas (Ana, 2008, p. 919; School of Travel Industry Management, 2006, p.2; Tzsér & David, 2009, p. 1427). At the primary level, destinations are fundamentally local communities founded on local government borders (Jamal & Robinson, 2003, p.449).

Therefore, a local tourism destination is a physical space where a tourist stays for not less than one night (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.1). It is pertinent to note that a local tourism destination includes things such as “attractions, support services, and tourism resources in a day’s return travel period” (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.1).

Moreover, physical and administrative limits, coupled with paradigms and perceptivity underscore tourism destination and all these factors, determine the market competitiveness of the same. A local tourism destination includes various stakeholders that comprise a host community, which can come together, and network to create bigger destinations (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.1).

It is vital to note that groups of local tourism enterprises including attractions, hotels, transport companies, and tourist service providers such as restaurants, guides, and equipment rentals are critical components of a destination (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.1; Ana, 2008, p. 919).

Concisely, tourists go to destinations, which are definite places with recognized boundaries such as political boundaries, boundaries of an island or market-created boundaries.

However, the longing of a place to stand out as an acknowledged tourism destination brings up elusive marketing challenges (Baker, 2007, p.15; Ana, 2008, p. 919). For this reason, tourism destination management and marketing organizations are crucial to growth of the tourism sector of an economy.

Tourism destination Management

Tourism destination Management entails a wide range of issues, including land usage planning, issuance of business licenses and zoning controls, enterprise association schemes, environmental regulations and other various methods used to shape development and daily running of tourism activities (Jamal & Robinson, 2003, p.449). It is a critical integral part of managing tourism’s environmental impacts.

Destination management organizations are usually made up of local authorities, local departments of the trade, community representatives, local not-for-profit organizations, as well as, higher institutions of learning (Jamal & Robinson, 2003, p.449). Nevertheless, no single approach to tourism destination management that is applicable in all countries.

Essentially, destination management is a process of leading and coordinating tourism activities under a logical plan by destination management organizations (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.2).

Destination management demands that, different organizations pull together guided by a common objective. DMOs do not manage activities of partners instead they pool together resources and expertise (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.2).

Tourism destination marketing

Destination marketing is a fundamental component of developing and maintaining popularity of a given place. Destination marketing is a process through which “a country’s tourism organizations and/or tourist businesses identify the target potential and current tourists in order to inform them and sway their wishes, likes and dislikes, motivations and needs at local, national, regional, and global levels” (Wahab et al., 1976, p.24).

Therefore, relevant tourism stakeholders devise and embrace their tourist products through such process in a bid to attain maximum tourist satisfaction. Destination marketing organizations thus refers to any organization charged with the responsibility of selling identifiable destinations (Pike, 2004, p.105).

It is necessary to note that this does not include separate government organs that undertake tourism planning and policymaking (Pike, 2004, p.105). Destination marketing organizations play a critical duty of propagating substantial market and performance information to its members in a timely manner (Ritchie & Crouch, 2003, p.73).

Destination marketing organizations must decide on business-related issues like prizing and product formulation among other many business decisions. Such information provides destination managers with vital information needed for understanding traveller needs and successful product development (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.53).

Tourism destination management v. Tourism destination marketing

Even though concepts destination management and destination marketing share the foundational term destination, which has more or less a similar meaning, the two refers to two different processes. However, learners, as well as scholars, and practicing tourism experts use these concepts interchangeably (Earth Summit, 2002, p.1).

This trend has led to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts. Nevertheless, it is safe to argue that in reality the destination management and destination-marketing processes complement one another in a destination’s endeavours to make itself and various parts of its territory, cultural and historical heritage recognized domestically and internationally.

On the one hand, tourism destination management comprises the whole responsibility for developing the tourist products of an entire destination, for their growth through controlling and promotion. Tourism destination management involves the development of partnership among various relevant stakeholders that can enable them offer positive experience to their tourists (Tzsér & David, 2009, p. 1429).

The main function of tourism destination management is the formulation of cooperation and coordination between government authorities, not-for-profit and private players of tourism (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.1).

Tourism destination management is essentially coordination, controlling and directing activity. Its mission is usually driven by the need to institute competitive and sustainable tourism in a given place through comprehensive establishment and running of tourism system (Tzsér & David, 2009, p. 1429; Kozak & Baloglu, p.79).

It aims at fulfilling tourists demands, ensure profitability of the sector, encourage participation of local communities in the processes of development so that they can improve the quality of their lives.

Most importantly, it aims to protect and care for the environment. Tourism destination management takes place through tourist planning, evaluation, development, and tourism business amalgamation or lobby activities (Tzsér & David, 2009, p. 1430).

It usually involves the creation of communal partnerships and becoming aware of and understanding the interests and demands of the players, including authorities, inhabitants, tourists, tourist businesses, and partnership organizations (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.1).

Generally, tourism destination management is an activity of looking after the interests of tourists and receiving communities and serving them as one entity. Its mission should be to provide a positive experience for tourists and promote social, economic, and environmental advantages for the host communities (Tzsér & David, 2009, p. 1430).

Tourism destination management must be an independent organization with appropriate competence, means, and professionals who are able to carry out all involved responsibilities.

Financially, Tourism destination management organizations should be self-sustaining and should receive support from the top (Tzsér & David, 2009, p. 1430; Kozak & Baloglu, 2009, p.80). Financial maintenance is offered by the stakeholders mentioned above.

Largely, destination management involves issues such as development management, planning within environmental and socio-cultural capacity confines. Tourism destination management should involve host or local communities in tourism development and planning.

Here, it is necessary to note that development of a tourism destination affects local residents’ social, economic, cultural lifestyle, thereby directly influencing their quality of life (Jamal & Robinson, 2009, p.449; Woodside, 2007, p.130).

Furthermore, negative effects of tourism development on the integrity of natural surroundings of a particular destination can affect both ecological integrity and the cultural ways of life, which local dwellers may want, to experience locally.

These considerable factors necessitate the involvement of host or local communities in tourism planning and development (Kozak & Baloglu, 2009, p.80).

It is vital to note that Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) responsibilities keep on changing because of environmental and market changes as they have to meet needs and wants of all stakeholders and attain a complicated variety of strategic goals (Kozak & Baloglu, 2009, p.80). Concisely, DMOs are expected to articulate and put into practice sustainable development strategies of a particular destination.

On the other hand, tourism destination marketing is more or less an integral part of tourism destination management. Therefore, local, national, and regional destination marketing organizations are essentially fundamental components of the overall DMOs such as National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) (World Tourism Organization, 2007, p.53).

In other words, destination marketing is founded on the major pillars of tourism destination management. For this reason, there are possibilities of bringing about misunderstandings in tourism studies, research, and practice when concepts tourism destination management and tourism destination marketing are used interchangeably (Earth Summit, 2002, p.1).

Tourism is a complex industry that involves extensive service provision and selling of tangible products to tourists. From a commercial viewpoint, tourism is a multifaceted business that requires expert strategic planning and management in order to enable a destination benefit from its tourism potential and establish sustainable tourism development.

Within the increasingly competitive business world at the domestic and international market levels, it is one thing to have superior products and/or services, but without proper and effective means through which you can inform and persuade target potential and actual customers to buy your products, your products and services are valueless (Silk, 2006, p.3).

They are valueless because they do not meet their fundamental goal of satisfying needs and wants of the target audience and thus do not enable your organization to realize improved financial performance, which is a prerequisite for its overall performance, development, and future success. Therefore, marketing is a significant process of any given supply chain including tourism organizations’ supply chains.

Generally, marketing is a process of planning and implementing the progress, setting prices, advertising and delivery of goods, ideas, and services to make possible transactions that satisfy individual and organizational needs, wants and objectives (Silk, 2006, p.3; Lamb et al, 2011, p.3). Marketing has two dimensions.

First, marketing is a management orientation, philosophy, or an attitude that puts emphasis on customer satisfaction. Secondly, marketing is processes and activities (Lamb et al., 2011, p.3). Viewing marketing as an exchange process makes understanding, forecasting and persuading or influencing customers the distinctive and core task of the marketing function.

The objectives of marketing professionals should, therefore, be to make sure that target clients understand the basic concept underlying a given product or service.

In addition, they should explain to customers the importance of the company’s product or services to their needs, get rid of or alleviate barriers to exchange so that customers can engage in an exchange with minimal effort, and build up and manage dependable relationships with customers, thereby providing the framework within which exchanges occurs (Lamb et al., 2011, p.3).

Therefore, marketing is a critical process whose efficiency determines how well an organization is positioned to retain and expand its customer base by creating value for them (Lamb et al., 2011, p.3).

It is pertinent to remember that the number of customers that an organization has and their willingness to buy and continue buying its products or services determines its overall success because they are the main source of financial resources needed to retain an organization’s profitability and solvency.

Tourism destination marketing is a critical process without which recognizable destinations would go to waste since the target audience would not get information about their whereabouts and existence in the market.

As pointed out earlier, it is a process through which a destination’s tourism organizations solely or in conjunction with tourist businesses identify target potential and current tourists in order to inform them and influence their wishes, likes and dislikes, motivations and needs at various levels (Wahab et al., 1976, p.24).

Therefore, tourism organization utilizes this process to devise and adapt their tourist products in line with the significant goal of achieving maximum tourist satisfaction.

Tourism destination marketing should, therefore, be a hands-on, tactical, tourist-oriented approach to the socio-cultural, environmental, and economic development of a destination, which balances and puts the interests of tourists, host community, and service providers together (Wahab et al., 1976, p.24; Page & Connell, 2006, p.226).

A destination marketing organization (DMO), is a separate business unit either not-for-profit, governmental or corporate, that is charged with the responsibility of coordinating and spearheading and marketing efforts of a given destination.

It is essential to note that destinations are the external-facing aspect of tourism products or services by virtue of being the place where tourist consumption takes place (Ana, 2008, p. 919). Thus, through destination management, attractive or unattractive places develop a tourism industry based on establishing a destination and a demand for services and products they offer (Pike, 2008, p.356).

Destination marketing plays a significant role of ensuring that a destination lifecycle does decline by communicating with the target audiences throughout various development stages of a destination.

In other words, destination marketing tourism organizations inform travellers at the early phase of a destination’s development raise awareness during the growth phase, influence travellers to visit in maturity stage and to retain tourists and set up new markets in the declining stages (Pike, 2008, p.356).

Since destinations are essential players in an increasingly competitive industry, they have to devise strategies in order to differentiate themselves. It is noteworthy that destinations wish to compete, but they are hindered by one critical limitation that is the tourism resource base and its maintenance (Pike, 2008, p.356; Wahab & Prigram, 1997, p.5).

Different places assume and develop different approaches to destination marketing. For instance, some destinations seek to develop market position through a continuous process of originality with a view to expand their market niche and maintain competitiveness and retain their distinctive appeal (Pike, 2008, p.356).

Other destinations position themselves between status and commodity points after going through serious development stages. Evidence available shows that, adopted cost-leadership strategies experience mass tourism, which has in turn resulted to irreversible damage to the resource base (Pike, 2008, p.356).

However, it is crucial to note that irrespective of whatever approach a place develops, the most essential thing is to understand features, which combine to create the destination (Brey et al., 2007, p 418).

Tourism destination marketing is a demanding process that requires in-depth knowledge in basic marketing, as well as professional skills in tourism marketing. Comprehending how target customers obtain information is critical to destination marketing decision-making processes and as Molina et al. (2010) put it, “this is particularly true for tourist product, services and travel” (p.722).

Equally central, a destination marketer’s in-depth understanding of how travellers chose the destination they would want to visit. This understanding enables marketers to choose the most effective marketing strategies that can help them influence visitor’s consumer behaviour. It is essential to note that a traveller is usually faced by a variety of intentions as s/he strives to choose the most appropriate destination that suits his or her needs.

For example, a business travel is not a choice-related type of visit per se and is thus usually informed by specific commercial needs (Pike, 2008, p.357). On the other hand, leisure travel is a choice-related; thereby a visitor has to make a choice between domestic or foreign destinations.

Whichever choice a leisure tourist settles for, it is to a considerable extent influenced by the purchasing ability of an individual tourist (Pike, 2008, p.357; Laws et al., 1998, p.399). In short, a successful destination marketer should understand and appreciate the fact that a variety of factors such as population, level of education, income, and gender decisively influences holidaymaking.

Impacts of misunderstanding of concepts destination management and destination marketing

There is undoubtedly a close relationship between tourism destination management and tourism destination marketing in reality. However, it is certainly clear that the two concepts are distinct in many ways, as illustrated earlier. In fact, destination management is the foundation on which destination marketing is designed and undertaken.

Therefore, use of these concepts interchangeably can mislead a learner or practicing tourism manager fail to put into consideration critical factors related to the two processes. This, in turn, leads to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts.

According to World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is tourism “that facilitates management of all resources in a manner that ensures that social, economic and aesthetic needs are met while at the same time upholding cultural integrity, life support systems, and biological diversity” (Earth Summit, 2002, p.1).

When destination management and destination marketing are viewed by stakeholders as similar concepts, the process of satisfying needs of the current and potential tourists and host communities while safeguarding and facilitating needs in the future is usually jeopardized (Earth Summit, 2002, p.1).

Destination management comes before destination marketing through out the stages of a destination development.

Tourism organizations and/or tourism businesses must take the initiative of understanding elements of a destination that make it unique and devise management and marketing strategies geared towards making the place a recognized tourist destination amid other more competitive and already well-established destinations. It should then undertake development of tourist products of the entire destination.

Tourism destination management should also establish partnerships with all relevant tourism stakeholders in order to enhance provision of positive experience to tourist. In other words, Tourism destination management plays the critical role of promoting cooperation and coordination between government authorities, not-for-profit and private players of tourism.

Throughout the various stages of growth and development of destination tourism, destination marketing plays an equally critical role of informing target visitors about a destination and influencing them through strategic marketing strategies to visit a particular destination.

As such, tourist destination marketing and destination marketing organizations are part of the bigger destination development process through controlling and continuous promotion. A well-developed tourist destination that is poorly marketed is a real impediment to growth and development of a destination.

Therefore, it is safe to argue that tourism destination marketing is an integral part of the bigger process of tourism destination management.

Conclusion and recommendations

In a recap, even though tourism is one of the vibrant economic sectors in the global economy it is certainly a complicated industry. Therefore, tourist managers, concerned government authorities, tourism students and other relevant stakeholders require an in-depth knowledge of all foundational aspects of the industry, such as a tourism destination management and tourism destination marketing.

They should also acquire extensive general marketing knowledge and skills for application in tourism. Tourism destination management is foundational to growth and development of a destination, while tourism destination marketing is largely an integral part of the former.

Tourism destination marketing provides a means through which a destination is sold to potential and current visitors. Therefore, processes and activities unique to tourism destination management and tourism destination marketing should be understood clearly, as well as how they are linked.


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