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)

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

  • Understand the DestinationNEXT Futures Study and implications for destination organizations.
  • Gain the inside perspective on destination organizations and human resource and financial leadership.
  • Understand the similarities leadership and management, and the acquisition of skills to develop strong destination organizational teams.
  • Adopt key leadership concepts and the process of “visioning” and how it applies to a destination organization.
  • Learn the “whys” and “hows” of investing in people through staff direction, involvement and “leading-edge” personnel techniques.
  • Identify superior performance and recognize the cost-effective rewards that will motivate staff, and tie performance and reward to an organization’s goals.
  • Demonstrate the bottom-line implications of investing in people.

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.

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.


To maintain the CDME certification, graduates must attend a minimum of four destination organization focused continuing education courses (in person and/or online) per year for the four years following your graduation for a cumulative total of 16 courses.

Please note: Beginning in 2018, Destinations International will be offering a CDME Summit on an annual basis. Attendance at this CDME summit will be equivalent of the four course requirement mentioned above.

Fall 2017 CDME Series

November 2017: Special Session on Destination Organization Marketing Leadership
Location: TBD

  • Destination Marketing Planning: Date TBD (2 Day Core)
  • Destination Sales and Services Management: Date TBD (Concurrent 1 and Half Day Elective)
  • Destination Financial Management: Date TBD (Concurrent 1 and Half Day Elective)

For questions, please contact:

Haydee Barno

Director of Education

Phone: +1.202.835.4203.