The purpose of this study was to identify business competencies important for entry-level managers in destination marketing organizations (DMOs), analyze business competencies currently being taught in hospitality tourism programs in higher education facilities, and determine if the educational needs of the DMO segment are being met. Until recently, the terms hospitality industry and travel and tourism industry (HTTI) were often used interchangeably, without regard to how they connect. J. Ninemeier and J. Perdue (2007) determined there are distinct differences between these 2 sectors: (a) The hospitality industry refers primarily to organizations that provide accommodations and foodservice for people when they were away from home, and (b) the travel and tourism industry describes organizations that cater to the needs of the traveling public (e.g., cruise ships, air, rail, and ground transportation; gaming, amusement parks, and local and national attractions). Together, these hospitality organizations comprise 4 business entities—lodging, foodservice, travel and transportation, and recreation—which are the largest and fastest growing industries in the world (J. Walker, 2004).
DMOs connect the HTTI sectors together to play an important role in enhancing city economies in terms of providing work for citizens and leisure activities for locals and travelers. The maturity and professionalism of DMOs is the reason for this investigation into the skills and business acumen expected of entry-level managers in these competitive, leading organizations in the 21st century. The focus of this study was to identify which business competencies are important for entry-level managers in the DMO segment and to measure the responsiveness of formal education to support them. The findings may influence the design and development of hospitality management curriculum focused on DMOs and tourism at 2- and 4-year universities with hospitality programs.
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