by Matt Alderton | November 14, 2014
Meeting planners know how valuable destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are. Now, so does everyone else, thanks to a new study conducted by Oxford Economics for the Destination & Travel Foundation, the education and research arm of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).

Published this week, the study -- based on a statistical analysis of more than 200 cities over more than 20 years -- concluded that destinations that place a high priority on marketing their brands and amenities realize significantly greater employment and economic growth, well beyond the visitor economy.

"Tourism has always been a top driver of jobs and taxes," DMAI President and CEO Michael Gehrisch said in a statement. "And, as an industry, we are setting our sights on understanding how and why destinations with devoted visitor economies -- who treat tourism as a locally-produced export -- realize even greater economic and social benefits, job growth, investments, workforce development, and quality of life."

According to the study, the visitor economy drives broader economic growth through four primary channels:

1. Destination promotion supports development of transportation infrastructure, providing greater accessibility and supply logistics that are important in attracting investment to other sectors.

2. Destination promotion builds awareness, familiarity, and relationships in commercial networks (institutional, companies, individuals) that are critical in attracting investment. Similarly, destination promotion raises the destination profile among potential new residents, supporting skilled workforce growth that is critical to economic development.

3. By securing meetings, conventions, and trade shows for local facilities, DMOs create valuable exposure among business decision makers and opportunities to deepen connections with attendees.

4. Destination promotion supports amenities and a quality of life that are integral to attracting investment in other sectors in the form of human capital, corporate relocations, and expansion.

"The data substantiates the link between destination marketing and economic growth and why today's visitor economy warrants investment," said Destination & Travel Foundation Chair Cleo Battle, executive vice president of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau in Louisville, KY. "What this study continues to demonstrate is that those markets which coordinate destination marketing and economic development realize even greater gains as a result."