Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen destination marketing organizations make rapid and significant changes. The community relevance of a tourism organization, its integration with civic and citizen plans and its contribution to the local economy have all been in the spotlight.

Having watched their work unfold over the past year-plus, I am encouraged and impressed with the get-to-work attitude of many of the leaders in this industry.

Dave Herrell, President and CEO Visit Quad CitiesDavid Herrell in Quad Cities, in his guest blog Leading Forward into 2021: A Note to Destination Execs, points out, “We were able to demonstrate the critical importance of tourism and how it empowers community and economy through the severity of losses and lost momentum.”

Zac GribbleZac Gribble, the newly ensconced ED at the Stratford Tourism Alliance in Canada, doubled down on the organization’s destination development focus with a series of co-funded initiatives intended to create "highly shareable" arts and culture experiences throughout 2021 via the Stratford Destination Animation Fund.

Matthew PriceMatthew Price, Executive Director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, is pushing forward with an alignment and activation strategy in Pennsylvania and has this to share: “The lesson of COVID has been that physical projects like trails and river access have made more of a difference in attracting new visitors than events have.”

Aaron NissenFinally but by no means last, my friend and peer Aaron Nissen, a fellow Canadian and the Director of Digital Strategy at Simpleview, drew heavily on his roots as a destination manager this week to pen “From Adversity to Opportunity.” 

Reflecting on his years in management and development at the DMO level, Aaron points out, “It is a critical time for DMO’s to rethink and readdress their relevance, role and function. He notes, “We need to come to terms with the fact that we must address what activities should DMOs stop doing, what measurements should be prioritized, and at an organizational level, what skills and roles are needed.”

David, Zac, Matthew and Aaron are out there every day working to make a difference, working to revive local tourism economies and working to future-proof destinations. For them, tourism is something you build from the ground up! 


Photo by Tim Swaan on Unsplash