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Urban tourism oganisations hit hard by crisis

The immediate observation is that few DMOs are left unaffected by the crisis – almost 75% of the 67 DMOs in the survey have had their 2020 budgets reduced and almost a third of these have seen severe reductions of more than 50%.

New 2020 DMO Funding Survey published by European Cities Marketing shows severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Europe's urban Destination Management and Marketing Organisations (DMOs). More than ¾ of the DMOs have seen budget reductions – many with more than 50%. ECM calls for decision makers at local, national and EU level 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.

According to European Cities Marketing, the association of more than 120 urban DMOs in Europe, the new-normal reality could be an omen of a new era where DMOs take a clearer stand on balanced and holistic tourism development in the cities.

The crisis is global and it is needless to say that negative budget impacts like this have not been seen before in the DMO community – not even during the global financial crisis from 2009-2011.

Looking closer, the DMOs funding crisis is clearly multi-dimensional. All sources (commercial income, tax revenue, membership contributions etc.) have experienced plummeting incomes. The immediate observation is that few DMOs are left unaffected by the crisis – almost 75% of the 67 DMOs in the survey have had their 2020 budgets reduced and almost a third of these have seen severe reductions of more than 50%.

Published in collaboration with Danish strategy firm Group NAO, the objective of the ECM 2020 DMO Funding Survey, is to assess the current funding situation and the crisis impact on the destination management and marketing organisations and to help both the DMOs but also political decision makers understand the scope and severity of the crisis. In a comment to the results, Petra Stusek, ECM President says: "It is crucial that decision members on local, national and EU-level understand that the crisis has slammed many DMOs financially along with the industry itself. 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".

The remaining part of 2020 carries no promise of immediate or easy recovery. The most important thing is therefore DMO's long-term coordinated efforts to ensure a wider and more resilient tourism in the cities of Europe. Despite this challenging scenario, DMOs are almost in total agreement, that the crisis will lead the land of travel and tourism towards a more sustainable future (89% agrees partly or completely). Also, most of the DMOs feel that the crisis has strengthened their political capital. At the moment, rebuilding tourism is a high political priority in many destinations and the DMOs are showing the relevance when coordinating and operating the recovery efforts.

"ECM will further 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."
says Petra Stusek, ECM President

As stated in a letter to the European Commission on July 2, 2020, "European Cities Marketing is determined to contribute to this important work and has called for the European Union to promote a harmonised, coordinated response and recovery planning. We are confident it will contribute to building our shared understanding of the current situation, the depth of crisis and the financial outlook for European cities' DMOs in navigating both the near and longer-term future. The Travel and Tourism industry is uniquely equipped to be part of sustainable global recovery efforts going beyond tourism, better for the planet and the people", concludes Petra Stusek, ECM President.

Over the next months,destinations should focus their energy in innovating and re-purposing their strategies, creating new creative ways of boost funds, developing new sustainable paradigms, sharing ideas and raising their voice together with the DMO community and re-scope their objectives and perspectives.

Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.