European Cities Marketing and Group NAO’s new survey of urban European DMOs shows the severe impact of COVID-19 on destinations and DMOs. In 2020, 3/4 of European DMOs experienced budget reductions, but still, DMOs are optimistic that recovery – if done right – could be used to create a new and better future for Europe’s visitor economies.

European Cities Marketing has partnered with Group NAO to carry out the 2020 study on the funding and budget situation for European DMOs (destination management/marketing organisations). The objective of the study is to assess the current and future DMO funding situation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. In the study, survey results from 67 urban European DMO’s have been analysed and compared with earlier studies of the same to present a comprehensive overview of the crisis impact on the DMO funding landscape.

The severity of the pandemic crisis is clear as 75% of DMOs have experienced budget reductions and nearly 1/3 of them are looking at reductions of more than 50%. A deeper look at the results shows the multifaceted nature of the crisis impact as income from multiple sources (commercial sales, tax revenue, membership contributions, etc.) has plummeted. Furthermore, the results show little sign that next year’s budgets will be any better. In fact, 71% of the DMOs expect budget reductions in 2021 as well. On a positive note, many DMOs also report hope that they will get a good share of government recovery funds to reboot the tourism sector.

“(…) 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”.
Petra Stusek, European Cities Marketing President


Overall, the survey sends a clear message to the DMO community: It is crucial that DMOs and policy makers create long-term strategies to secure new funding to ensure the recovery of the tourism industry and to build destinations back better. Rebuilding tourism has become a high political priority in most destinations. This is reported by the majority of surveyed DMOs, who also share the sentiment that the crisis has increased their political voice and influence. Furthermore, DMOs are mostly positive that recovery will lead to a more sustainable future of travel and tourism (89% either completely or mostly agree).

Group NAO works with transformative agendas, ideas and strategies in travel, tourism, culture and urban development. We are strategic creatives, change communicators and imaginative analysts.

European Cities Marketing press release on the 2020 Funding Study here.