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Establishing Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) in Azerbaijan, Cameroon and Iran

O. Cenk DEMIROGLU, Department of Geography, Umeå University, Sweden, cenk.demiroglu@umu.se

Dieter K. MÜLLER, Department of Geography, Umeå University, Sweden, dieter.muller@umu.se



<insert-authors> (2019). <insert-abstract-title>. AIRTH 2019 Conference: Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Success; 2019 Sep 12 - 14; Innsbruck, Austria. Retrieved: <insert-date>, from http://www.airth.global


Tourism is often referred to as a major remedy for alleviating regional disparities. It is regarded as a “soft” means to (re)balance the socioeconomic structure as an alternative to or coexistent with extractive industries. In this paper, we introduce the “Destination Management Organization: Conceptual Framework for Azerbaijan, Cameroon and Iran” project, dealing with identification and establishment of destinations and destination management organizations in developing countries.

In the most classical and categorical sense; a destination is defined as “a physical space in which a tourist spends at least one overnight” and “includes tourism products such as support services and attractions and tourist resources within one day’s return travel time” (UNWTO, 2007: 1). Whilst current research may still treat destinations in the classical sense for analytical purposes, the recent “St. Gallen Consensus of Destination Management” suggests a definition for destinations as a “market-oriented productive system” that is activated by tourist flows but also co-produced by the tourists themselves together with suppliers, and realized along the whole tourism system, including the destination as well as the original, transit, virtual and cognitive spaces (Reinhold et al., 2015). 

Setting up a governance framework for destinations or, as more commonly observed, relating destinations to existing frameworks require initially the mapping of existing and potential stakeholders and then formulating an accountable strategic basis. Thus, the requisite especially for emerging destinations, as those in focus for this project, becomes the establishment of DMOs through institutionalization strategies relevant to the governance framework in existence or change. At regions that are historically locked into long existing political and economic structures with a strong state culture (Halkier et al., 2018), the DMO may enjoy abundance of financial and logistical resources but also find it difficult to professionalize itself, moving back and forth for its own, and consequently, the destination’s success and hindering itself from transitioning into the new paradigm of the St. Gallen Model for Destination Management (SGDM).

The research design involves expert surveys and on-site interviews at the three study countries to reveal the actors’ understandings of destination and DMO conceptualizations. In addition, geographical information systems are employed for thematic and strategic regionalizations of the (potential) destinations, based on an attractivity and accessibility index and by overlaying the underlying administrative governance frameworks, with an emphasis on less developed areas such as the Aran region in Azerbaijan. Following these initial steps, a multiday workshop shall be gathered in September 2019 to test and validate the suggested destinations and their management frameworks and functionalities together with the main actors from the three study countries.



Halkier, H., Müller, D. K., Goncharova, N. A., Kiriyanova, L., Kolupanova, I. A., Yumatov, K. V., & Yakimova, N. S. (2018, Early cite). Destination development in Western Siberia: tourism governance and evolutionary economic geography. Tourism Geographies

Reinhold, S., Laesser, C., & Beritelli, P. (2015). 2014 St. Gallen Consensus on destination management. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 4, 137-142.

UNWTO (2007). A practical guide to tourism destination management. UNWTO, Madrid.


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