Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) Credential

The Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) is the tourism industry’s highest individual educational achievement. 

What is the CDME certification program? 

The Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) program prepares senior executives, who want to advance their careers to blend theory with experience and application of knowledge to help industry leaders thrive in a constantly changing environment.

The program focus is on vision, leadership, productivity and implementing business strategies.

Who should enroll in the CDME certificate program? 

The suitable applicant is an experienced professional who has developed a broad knowledge base mirroring Destinations International’s professional tracks and destination marketing industry standards. Graduates of the program will be equipped with the knowledge needed to adapt and manage the increasing change and competition facing the industry.

Program Components 

Each core course is 2 days in duration, involving a “take-home” assignment to be completed by the participant with a subsequent report of findings and conclusions returned for review.

  • All courses are “stand alone” and can be taken in any sequence. It is highly recommended that the Strategic Issues in Destination Management core course be the participant’s introduction to the program.
  • After core and elective courses are completed, a comprehensive and practice-oriented final exam will be administered to those participants who wish to earn their certification.
  • Elective courses are varied and are 1.5 days in duration.

Course Design Features

  • Limited enrollment to encourage closer interaction among participants and faculty.
  • Course moderators with strong teaching skills and international and tourism business experience.
  • Inclusion of noted industry practitioners to provide specialized expertise.
  • Highly interactive session formats that combine pre-assigned readings, case studies, workshop exercises, idea exchanges, videos and small group discussions.
  • Topic deliberations to reinforce relevant concepts, strategies, applications and measurement methods.

Download the CDME application. (PDF)
Download the brochure. (PDF)

CDME Program Requirements

The CDME program requires completion of the following courses and knowledge assessments within a four-year time frame. Credential conferred after successful completion of the following:

  • 4 Core Courses
  • 2 Elective Courses
  • Final Exam

Strategic Issues In Destination Management

  • Understand what it means to be a destination marketer, manager and leader.
  • Understand global and national constraints, opportunities and trends affecting destination marketing and management.
  • Learn the key factors and new initiatives that make destination marketing professionals and organizations successful.
  • Discern the destination visioning and strategic planning process and how the community and
  • industry become stakeholders in branding and tourism development.
  • Know the latest thinking and solutions to current destination issues and challenges such as branding, funding, performance accountability, community relations/advocacy, industry partnerships and visitor relationship management.

Destination Marketing Planning

  • Become exposed to the “vanguard” thinking in convention and leisure travel marketing through relationship/database, social media and partnership/regional promotion.
  • Learn about alternate approaches to destination marketing strategies and promotional/sales planning.
  • Learn a systematic, step-by-step approach to preparing marketing strategies.
  • Understand research and evaluation sources and techniques needed for effective destination
  • marketing programs.
  • Acquire knowledge of new trends and learn the success stories in domestic, regional and international convention and leisure marketing.

Destination Leadership

  • Discuss the qualities needed to excel as a leader, both for your organization and within the community
  • Review the factors that contribute to organizational success, including clearly defined mission and vision statements, organizational values, your brand promise, and company culture
  • Adopt key leadership concepts and discuss the importance of emotional intelligence
  • Demonstrate the implications of not following best practices in financial leadership, and review the benefits of doing a comprehensive organizational assessment
  • Highlight essential communications tools including the business plan, annual report, stakeholder meetings, and others
  • Discuss key human resources practices such as salary studies, handbook development, job descriptions and performance evaluations
  • Understand how to find the right board member, the benefits of solid board governance, and effective ways to communicate with your board
  • Consider the importance of crisis communications and how you can ensure your DMO is prepared

Destination Advocacy and Community Relations

  • Achieve a new appreciation of visitor industry and government relations as it affects destination marketing leadership.
  • Understand the need and process in preparing an advocacy and local communications strategy.
  • Know the key principles and practices in strengthening the partnership among government, visitor industry, community and destination organization leadership.
  • Ascertain success factors in the governance of a visitor destination.
  • Understand key stakeholder needs and destination organization best practices.
  • Obtain the latest thinking and solutions to current destination organization challenges in the visitor industry, media, resident and government relations.

Core Course Papers

For each* of the four core courses (Strategic Issues in Destination Management, Destination Marketing Planning, Destination Advocacy and Community Relations and Destination Leadership), the CDME participant is required to prepare a minimum 3-page (double-spaced, equivalent to 750 words) take-home descriptive report on some idea, concept, procedure or practice taken from the particular course and applied to the participant’s DMO.  The paper should contain an introductory description of the item in question, the proposed or actual process in implementation, and the perceived or actual benefits derived.  Exhibits may be attached as addenda, but do not count toward the 3-page/750 word requirement.

The paper must be completed within 30 days of the completion of the core course, and should be sent via email as a PDF file in care of the undersigned and approved by the CDME Board prior to registration of another CDME course.  A total of four core course papers are required of those CDME participants joining the program after January 1, 2016.

*For the Destination Advocacy and Community Relations core, the requirement is for a detailed advocacy plan outline for the DMO, identifying key contents with some description of the goals, tactics and means of determining success.

Elective Course Options  

Choose two elective courses from 10 available options:

  • Destination Positioning and Branding
  • Destination Database Marketing
  • Technology and Marketing Communications in Destination Management
  • Destination Information and Research
  • Development of the Destination Experience
  • Destination Sales and Services Management
  • Destination Partnership and Innovative Funding
  • Destination Social Media Marketing
  • Destination Organization Financial Management
  • Destination Organization Human Resources and Talent Development


Destinations International recognizes CDME graduates as those professionals who have completed all CDME program requirements. The graduation ceremony occurs once a year at the Annual Convention.


Effective January 1, 2018, All CDME professionals who earned, and wish to maintain, the CDME designation are required to complete continuing education activities after graduation to maintain certification. Graduates must have a total of 16 continuing education credits by the end of the recertification cycle. Graduates that do not comply with the new recertification requirements will lose their designation.

What does this mean for you?
  1. Professionals that graduated prior to July 2015 have been “grandfathered” into the new Recertification schedule. All graduates under this category are required to recertify by January 31st, 2019.
  2. Professionals that graduated in July 2016 must follow the new Recertification schedule.

Please reference Destinations International CDME Recertification Requirements table to learn more about the recertification schedule and the different educational activities that qualify for recertification per graduation year.

Reporting Your Continuing Education

All graduates must report their continuing education to Destinations International by using the CDME recertification form. Professionals that earned the CDME designation prior to 2015, must report their continuing education activities by January 31st, 2019.

Download the recertification form. (PDF) 

For questions, please contact:

Haydee Barno
Director of Education
Phone: +1.202.835.4203.