Many wonder what role can DMOs play in a country already suffering from organizational overcrowding, bureaucracy, centralization, lack of continuity in policies and constant structural changes further complicated by the current economic crisis and its consequences?
In order to follow the global trend Greece had to establish decentralized, locally-based destination management structures around the country by taking into consideration a number of geographical, economical, social & environmental factors. The intensive occurrence of the aforementioned problems & barriers (bureaucracy, centralisation etc) throughout the Greek public administration mechanism creates huge barriers for local destinations to be self-sufficient and achieve their strategic objectives in the long term. Athens was the first Greek city which understood the necessity of establishing a DMO for coordinating the local tourism industry and promoting the local tourism product while many other Greek destinations are expressing their interest in setting up similar bodies. However, this trend should be engaged with national tools & guidelines for destination management at the local level in order to ensure that DMOs will be launched only in regions & places where the appropriate ground for development exist (strong local partnerships, sustainable tourism culture, expertise knowledge, adequate funds). After all, Destination Management/Marketing Organizations are expected to become the dominant, most influential and most respected force behind the world’s largest services sector and the Greek tourism should not miss that train. Having worked for many years with the Athens Tourism & Economic Development Co (Breathtaking Athens) I had the chance to become one of those few Greek practitioners on our field with actual experience in creating a destination management/marketing structure from the scratch…. Literally! A couple of weeks ago, I have been asked from the City of Sofia, Bulgaria to present the case of Athens DMO as a benchmark for other South Eastern Europe destinations. Please take a moment and check out the presentation I did for the City of Sofia authorities and feel free to make your comments. Cheers!