Destination Marketing and Destination Management the Tourism Sector


Proper and professional management of the tourism sector is a prerequisite for its growth, development, and ultimate success. Destination management and destination marketing are fundamental cornerstones of the tourism sector management. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the reasons why the use of concepts of destination marketing and destination management, interchangeably, leads to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts. A tourist destination refers to an area that attracts visitors for short-term stay (Buhalis, 2000, p. 106; Kozak, 2004, p. 16; Ritchie & Crouch, 2003, p. 115). Destination management is a process through which destination management organizations (DMOs) lead and coordinate tourism activities (World Tourism Organization, 2007). While destination marketing is a process for promotion of a place, its facilities, and overall quality of services, tourism destination marketing deals with letting people know about services and facilities available in a given place (Yoona & Uysalb, 2005). This paper is divided into five main sections. An introduction followed by a literature review on destination management, destination marketing, tourism and destination. Section three is a discussion and analysis of concepts of destination management and destination marketing. Section four is a discussion of effects of confusing concepts destination management and destination marketing. The final section is a conclusion and recommendations part.

Literature Review

Sustainable tourism is certainly an outcome of excellent tourism management. Hence, Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) and Destination Marketing Organizations play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts. However, there is a controversy that arises in the study of the tourism destination concept whereby tourism destination management and tourism destination marketing are often used as the same concept. This tendency leads to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts.

Tourism is a significant economic sector and one of fastest growing economic sectors of the global economy (Ashley et al., 2007). According to World Tourism Organization (2007), tourism is the human activities and relationships that result from the travelling and staying of people in places away from their normal home environments. People travel for various reasons including leisure, recreation and business (Franklin, 2003, p. 53; Goeldner & Ritchie, 2009, p.632). World Tourism Organization defines a tourist as a person who travels to areas far from his/her normal home habitats for a time that go beyond a full day. Such visiting should not exceed one successive year for whatever reasons.

Tourist destinations are the core of any tourism system since tourism activities take place at destinations. As mentioned earlier, a tourist destination is an area that attracts visitors for short-term stay (Buhalis, 2000, p. 116; Kozak, 2004, p. 24; Ritchie & Crouch, 2003, p. 116). A destination can be a city or a village, state or province, country or continent (School of Travel Industry Management, 2006). A typical local tourism destination comprises of physical and administrative boundaries that define its management, images and insights vital to ensuring its cutting edge in the market. Tourists visit areas which are fundamentally specified places that have acknowledged boundaries like boundaries of an island or geopolitical boundaries.

In essence, destination management is a process of leading and coordinating tourism activities under logical strategies by Destination Management Organizations (World Tourism Organization, 2007). This is a call for the joining together of many partners with diverse needs and interests to work towards a common goal. It is noteworthy that, DMOs do not manage activities of partners; instead they pool resources and expertise together (World Tourism Organization, 2007). On the other hand, as pointed out earlier destination marketing is a process of promoting a place, its facilities, and overall quality of services. Tourism destination marketing concerns itself with informing people about services and facilities available in a certain place (Yoona & Uysalb, 2005).

A discussion and analysis of concepts of destination management and destination marketing

Tourism destination management deals with tourism planning and managing impacts of tourism activities. It largely entails coordination, controlling and directing tourism activities by a combination of various relevant stakeholders who act together as partners (World Tourism Organization, 2007). It targets meeting visitors’ needs; promoting profitability of the tourism sector and promoting participation of host communities in order improve their living standards (Tzsér & David, 2009: Jamieson, 2006, p. 213). The impetus of a typical destination management organization is the need to establish sustainable and competitive tourism (World Tourism Organization, 2007). Destination management aims at safeguarding and taking care of the environment so as to ensure that resources do not get exhausted unnecessarily. Destination management takes place through tourism planning, tourism enterprises combination, development and evaluation (Tzsér & David, 2009; World Tourism Organization, 2007). It is a call for the establishment of inclusive communal partnerships and understanding the needs and interests of all partners including visitors, local communities, and tourism enterprises among other organizations (World Tourism Organization, 2007).

In overall terms, tourism destination management involves taking care of the interests of visitors and host communities. Its main assignment is to provide superior services to visitors that give them positive experiences while enhancing social economic benefits of the host communities (Tzsér & David, 2009: Jamieson, 2006, p.219). Therefore, Destination management organization should be an independent outfit with financial means and competent experts who can undertake complex activities. Precisely, destination management encompasses development issues and planning within socio-cultural and environmental parameters (Tzsér & David, 2009: Jamieson, 2006, p. 213). As implied in the preceding part, tourism destination management should involve local communities within a given tourist destination. According to Jamal and Robinson (2009), growth and progress of a tourist destination inevitably affects the inhabitants’ socio-cultural and economic lifestyles; thereby, directly impacting up on the quality of their lives (p.9). Therefore, DMOs are supposed to institute sustainable tourism development plans for their respective tourist destination (Presenza et al, 2005, p. 10). DMOs’ officials and partners should appreciate the fact that their roles are bound to change in line with the market and environmental changes (Kozak & Baloglu, 2009, p. 119; Bieger et al, 2009, p. 316). It entails attempts to get tourists come to the destination.

On the other hand, destination marketing is a process through which a destination’s tourism organizations solely or in conjunction with tourism enterprises identifies present and potential visitors so as to inform them and influence their desires and needs at domestic and global levels (Wahab et al, 1976, p. 71). Destination marketing deals with promotion and ways of getting tourists come to the destination. It is key to developing and upholding popularity of a given tourist destination. Destination marketing is a significant process without which potential tourist destinations would go unutilized because; potential visitors can not get information about their existence in the market and whereabouts. Tourist organizations use this process in formulating and adapting their tourists’ goods and services in a manner that is in harmony with the ultimate objective of attaining; maximum tourist satisfaction. Wahab et al. (1976) point out that, tourism destination marketing should be a practical, strategic and visitor-oriented approach to environmental, economic and socio-cultural development of a tourist destination. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are corporate, governmental or non-profit outfits that shoulder the role of directing marketing efforts of a tourist destination (p. 76).

Destinations are the outer facing elements of tourism goods and services since they constitute the platform where tourism activities occur (Ana, 2008). Pike (2008) observes that, through tourism destination management, both attractive and unattractive areas develop a tourism sector founded up on creation of a destination and demand for products and services on offer (p.88). Then, destination marketing is mounted by the concerned tourist organizations in order to make sure that a destination’s lifeline does not decay by furnishing target visitors with relevant information through out the numerous development phases of a destination (Prideaux & Cooper, 2003, p. 35). In short, destination marketing organizations communicates with potential visitors during the early phase of a destination’s development, promote awareness during its growth stage, and persuade tourists to visit during maturity stage and retain visitors and come up with new markets during the declining phase of a destination (Pike, 2008, p. 88).

In a nutshell, destination marketing is a fundamental component of destination management. This implies that destination marketing organizations are central units of the general destination management organizations (World Tourism Organization, 2007). Therefore, destination marketing is based on the cornerstones of destination management. As such, though these two concepts are essential for destination sustainability, they should be applied cautiously to different stages aimed at making the tourist place better with regard to changing needs and expectation of consumers, stakeholders, and environmental issues (Elbe, Hallén, & Axelsson, 2009, p. 289). Being players in increasingly competitive markets, destinations must put in place strategic plans in order to be unique and outstanding. However, even though it is the natural desire of every destination to compete; they are usually faced by the challenge of maintaining tourism resource base (Pike, 2008, p. 91; Wahab & Prigram, 1997, p. 222).

Destination marketing is a complex process that calls for a comprehensive knowledge of marketing basics and expertise in tourism marketing. Destination marketers should understand how target audience obtains information since this is core to successful destination decision making process (Molina et al, 2010, p. 722). Furthermore, a destination marketer should comprehend properly how different tourists select destinations they would like to visit. This understanding will enable destination marketers to select the most effective marketing plans that can help them influence a visitor’s consumer behaviour. It is pertinent to note that visitors grapple with various intentions as they struggle to select the most suitable destination that is in line with their needs and interests (Pike, 2008, p. 90). For instance, a business visit is not a choice-related form of travel as such and is largely informed by exact commercial needs. On the other hand, a leisure visit is choice-related; therefore, a tourist must choose between an overseas and domestic destination. To a considerably large extent a leisure tourist’s choice is influenced by his or her purchasing power (Pike, 2008, p. 90). In addition, destination markets should understand that there are numerous factors that influence a visitor’s travel decision including age, gender, population, level of education and income (Pike, 2008, p. 91).

Different destination marketing organizations for different places use different approaches to destination marketing. For example, some places endeavours to develop market position via a continuous process of uniqueness in order to expand their market share and uphold competitiveness and preserve their distinctive appeal (Pike, 2008, p. 91). Other destinations establish themselves between status and commodity positions after undergoing different development stages. Destinations which have embraced cost-leadership plans experience mass tourism; this, in turn, culminates in to irreversible damage to the resource base (Pike, 2008, p. 88). However, it is noteworthy that regardless of whatever approach a destination adapts, the most noteworthy thing is to understand elements, which come together to create it (Brey et al, 2007, p.418).

Destination brand image plays a decisive role in economic sustainability and brand loyalty (Baker, 2007, p. 96; Ruzzier, 2010, p. 24). Branding is one of the important components of destination marketing (Baker, 2007, p. 103). However, it is pertinent to note that, a brand is not always approached as a name or an image that makes tourists aware of it to come back again. Some researchers address brands from the perspective of intangible values. Blain, Levy, and Ritchie (2005, p. 328-338) as well as many other researchers (Baker, 2007, p. 119; Dasgupta, 2011; Glaser, 2010, p. 23) focus on destination branding. As the concept of brand is somehow related to the intangible value, it positively contributes to the effective management of an organisation and facilitates marketing of the destination organization which presupposes promotion of products and services.

Brand managers should receive more information and guidelines on the branding of destinations, as they require a distinctive type of marketing, and should be approached differently than other businesses. As suggested by Hankinson (2009), such categories of destination branding as “brand culture, brand leadership, departmental coordination, brand communications, [and] stakeholder partnerships” (p. 99) should be addressed when taking into account the emerging necessity of destination branding as a strategy of development. Destination brand management can be considered a component of destination marketing; however, it is crucial to differentiate these two concepts although they are interrelated, and are often used interchangeably which is not correct.

Effects of confusing concepts destination management and destination marketing

The ultimate goal of destination management organizations and destination marketing organizations is to institute sustainable tourism ad manage impacts of tourism prudently. Sustainable tourism is one that “enhances management of the tourism resource base in a way that ensures that socioeconomic and aesthetic needs are fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, life support systems and biological diversity” (Earth Summit, 2002). Even though there is a link between destination management and destination marketing, in reality the two concepts are distinct in many ways as shown in the previous section.

If destination management and destination marketing are viewed as similar concepts, there is a potential risk of leaving out elements of each process in reality thereby stumble sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts. Undoubtedly, destination management paves the way for destination marketing and not vice versa. Destination management carries out the role of developing tourist products and services of an entire destination. It enhances partnership of all relevant stakeholders in order to facilitate positive experiences for visitors. Destination marketing, on the other hand, communicates with present and potential tourists and persuades them to visit. Therefore, destination marketing and destination marketing organizations are an integral part of the wider destination development under destination management through control and consistent promotion. Seeing the two concepts as the same thing would mean students, tourism managers do not understand the role played by each actual processes, as well as, their distinct features. This, in turn, leads to poor sustainable tourism planning and management of tourism impacts.


The limitations of the present study included lack of clear definitions by researchers to identify their insight of destination management and destination marketing, which leads to inappropriate management of tourism impacts on destinations and overall cooperation between marketing and management teams. For instance, a destination that is already popular can remain sustainable in case of effective management and marketing applied whereas new destinations need thorough attention in terms of marketing as an attraction of new tourists and management as eliminations of consequences and possible prevention of negative impacts. Though there are many explanations and general descriptions of what this or that concept may imply, it was essential to find out what the two concepts under discussion mean and how it is possible to differentiate them strictly. As such, comparison of explanations made it possible to understand and try to formulate a definition of destination management and destination marketing with regard to their main difference. This definition implies that marketing deals with attracting tourists and management focuses on what to do with consequences of tourism in the place.

As destination management and destination marketing exist within the domain of tourist destination, it is necessary to know a clear definition of each concept in order not to confuse them and not to use interchangeably because these processes do not imply the same meaning. The present study enabled us to find out that destination management strategies depend on the place in terms of the country and cultural differences, with regard to sustainability of business and interests of the local community in spite of globalisation. Management of destination should be aimed at reaching a healthy compromise between the local community, environmental issues, and effect a destination should have on tourists as one of the possible ways to predict and prevent negative impacts. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that such destination marketing technique as film-shooting can help to attract more tourists and investors to the place.

Further research on destination management and destination marketing should focus on benchmarking of situations when two destinations have the same competitive advantage though they use different business models, and have totally different results in terms of brand loyalty and awareness and revenue. Furthermore, it is possible to address the issue of information systems more closely to understand how proper data can influence destination popularity contrasted to travel blogs or other resources of information about the destination.


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