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

  • 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.

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.


To maintain the CDME certification, graduates must attend a minimum of four DMO focused continuing education courses (in person and/or online) per year for the four years following your graduation. These can include any sessions at Destinations International events, as well as those of state or regional DMOs, other industry organization programs, and any informal industry working groups, such as the DMO HR and Finance & Admin Shirtsleeves groups, etc. At least one of the four annual courses must come from a Destinations International offering. Over the course of the four years, graduates will be required to have accumulated 16 total courses attended, or four Summits, or a variance of the two (i.e., eight courses and 4 Summits). Accrual of these courses can be cumulative. 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 courses required mentioned above. More details will be released later in 2017. 

Download the recertification form. (PDF)

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.

For questions, please contact:

Haydee Barno
Director of Education
Phone: +1.202.835.4203.