Changes Coming to Accreditation Standards

By Gabe Seder

It’s been more than three years since the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program went through a comprehensive review of the 100+ standards that a destination organization must meet to achieve accreditation. Since the DMAP standards were last updated in 2018 we’ve experienced tremendous economic, technological, societal, and cultural changes that force destination organizations to adjust how they operate. As the industry evolves to keep up with the times, it is sometimes necessary for us to rethink what constitutes industry best practices and redefine those standards required for accreditation.

This summer, Destinations International will activate our Accreditation Task Force, which will take the lead at reviewing existing accreditation standards and make recommendations for how those should be updated to reflect the current state of the industry.

For example, as Destinations International continues to advocate for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry, there is clearly a need for accreditation to require a destination organization to demonstrate a commitment to principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The pandemic has also revealed weaknesses in the funding structure of some destination organizations. Our experience over the past 18 months suggests that destination organizations must develop some sort of reserve fund to operate through a crisis like we’ve experienced.

Interruptions in the way that we work make it clear that accreditation should require an organization to have a well-developed remote work plan and must be able to accommodate remote workers in order to succeed through a crisis. Clearly there is a need for accredited organizations to demonstrate that they have a robust business continuity plan.

Other standards must be updated to accommodate changing regulation for how we use technology—not to mention, changing consumer expectations for how data is used. Accreditation should address areas like privacy policies, and should include policies for preventing disruption of operations, including cybersecurity and network security policies.

We hope to introduce a draft of the new DMAP standards for feedback from members by the end of the year. In the meantime, there will be no additional action needed from organizations that are currently accredited or for applicants going through the accreditation process.

More information about DMAP and the full set of accreditation standards is available here.

If you have suggestions for standards that you’d like to see included in the program, feedback about any existing standards, please reach out to [email protected].

About the Author

Gabriel SederSenior Director, Advocacy Policy and Program DevelopmentDestinations International

About the Author

Gabe is a tourism marketing and destination development professional with more than 10 years of experience consulting for emerging and established destinations and tourism businesses around the world. He has supported city, regional, and national destination organizations with multiple objectives.

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