Graduation of Year 8 Destination Leaders 

the 2022 DLP class standing on the steps outside the Craiglockhart campusThis cohort’s studies were funded by the Scottish Government as part of the Scottish Tourism Recovery Programme – aimed at restoring the sector after the lockdowns and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The course was a great success with 47 people completing and many students expressing their enthusiasm for the opportunity to learn from best practice locally, nationally and internationally and the knowledge gained. 

Markus Stitz from shared his experiences, stating, “The course is really useful. It’s interesting to compare what different destinations are doing and learn from elsewhere, and I was delighted to learn my expertise is valuable for other destinations. Personally, I also found the focus on leadership very helpful: I’d like to do more on that field in future. The diverse mix of people on the course means you get a real balance of perspectives, which is both interesting and beneficial.” 

Returning student, Sheila Gilmore, Chief Executive of VisitArran, praised the course content and the delivery: “I had been on the short course previously and was keen to do the full programme as the quality of content is so good. It’s a great group and the networking is great – it was a privilege to talk with some speakers. The content is of a really high quality and all relevant, appropriate and useful.”

Meanwhile, business owner, Kirsty Innes, highlighted the skills and inspiration she’s taking away from the programme, saying, “The DLP has been fantastic in helping me diversify my business to support tourism clients with broader business advice. The programme provides great insights into successful global tourism approaches that could really benefit destinations and tourism businesses across Scotland. I was particularly inspired by the paradigm shift towards regenerative tourism, which reinforces that tourism really is a force for good. I’d thoroughly recommend DLP as a way to build connections and learn new skills.”

Congratulations to the class of 2022! It’s been an honour and a pleasure teaching each and every one of you. 

Graduation of Year 5 Destination Leaders

Following our recent graduation, a further 22 people from across the tourism industry in Glasgow and Edinburgh have successfully completed year 5 of the programme! Our DLP Alumni from now sitting at over 100 students - we are so proud of all of you - Congratulations.

Here is a link to all of our graduates.

New Cohort of Destination Leaders Kickstarts Year 5 Programme in Glasgow

Destination Leaders ProgrammeNow in its fifth year, the award-winning Destination Leaders Programme (DLP), funded by Scottish Enterprise and delivered by Edinburgh Napier University, kicked off its programme at Glasgow’s Technology and Innovation Centre on 25 October 2017 with a brand new cohort of twenty-three Edinburgh and Glasgow based tourism, events and hospitality professionals. Participants hail from organisations including VisitScotland, Marketing Edinburgh, Glasgow Science Centre, The University of Strathclyde, and The Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

DLP programme participants enjoyed insights into destination development with innovative thinking sessions from Marit Hovik Hartmann, Director of Communications and Marketing, Oslo Business Region, and Professor Leo Jago, Professor in Hospitality & Events, University of Surrey.

The destination leadership programme focuses on a series of practical workshop sessions, industry speakers, site visits and residential weekends; the first of which focuses on defining leadership and identifying leadership styles. Working from the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, the new DLP Year 5 cohort enjoyed engaging sessions with Pip Haydock of The 2gether Partnership and a talk from Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Aileen Lamb of Scottish Enterprise, and part of the Destination Leaders programme delivery team said: “Scottish Enterprise works closely with all DLP participants and around 80 alumni across Scotland to ensure DLP graduates are fully involved and encouraged to take on new leadership roles across Scotland’s tourism sector. We look forward to seeing our Year 5 cohort taking what they learn from the 2017/2018 programme and applying it in their respective destinations with the aim of delivering greater benefits for the visitor economy and the customer experience.”

Paul Wakefield, Head of Marketing and Partnerships, Marketing Edinburgh, said: “We are only two workshops in and it is already evident that the DLP is a very important course for destination leaders seeking to develop themselves both personally and professionally. Highlights for me so far have been the networking with like-minded and experienced tourism professionals and the high quality presentations from exemplar external speakers, in particular Shona McCarthy CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, whose memorable presentation was both emotional and hard hitting and Marit Ovik Hartmann from Oslo Business Region on the 360 degree turn around that has been achieved in Oslo”.

Based on an internationally acclaimed initiative originating from Melbourne, Australia, the Destination Leaders Programme runs from October to May and aims to identify emerging tourism leaders and provide them with the skills, knowledge and networks that they need to become effective destination leaders. 
Find out more about the Destination Leaders Programme and hear from DLP alumni


DLP Alumni Welcome Ty Speer, CEO and President of Tourism Vancouver to Edinburgh

DLP alumni were delighted to welcome Ty Speer, CEO of Tourism Vancouver as guest speaker at their latest social event at the G&V Royal Mile Hotel, Edinburgh, on Wednesday 7 June 2017.

Fresh from his attendance as keynote speaker of the Tourism Society’s Annual Symposium, celebrated in Edinburgh on 5 & 6 June, the CEO of Tourism Vancouver met with DLP alumni to share insights into the strategy for Vancouver’s success as a destination and its strong focus on industry leadership. Ty was also keen to find out more about the Destination Leaders Programme and there was wider debate on the challenges faced by tourism destinations in the 21st century.

Ty’s visit was particularly relevant given that Edinburgh and Vancouver are twin cities and 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the relationship between them.

DLP alumni and tourism industry guests learned more about the Tourism Vancouver Master Plan, where events, partnerships and alliances and neighbourhoods sit at the forefront. Vancouver hosts 24 major events per year including the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and has a year-round occupancy of around 80% which it is constantly driving to maintain. 

Ty explained that one of the destination organisation’s key objectives is to use tourism strategically to make Vancouver a better place – an aim which also requires strong leadership. The organisation has around 1000 business members, engaged at different levels of the destination’s activities and development, who are supported via a range of activities including training programmes, (China Ready initiatives and cruise-ship tourism development, for example) funding support and ongoing opportunities for local and regional collaboration.

Collaboration was highlighted as a key competency of a successful tourism organisation and destination. Tourism Vancouver forms part of Destinations International, (formerly DMAI), an international membership organisation which strives to make destinations successful, aiming to “inform, connect, inspire and educate its members with the goal to drive destination economic impact, job creation, community sustainability and quality of life through travel”.
The industry audience was interested to hear more about the research which Destinations International conducts into destination management, with Ty Speer providing an update on the 2017 research outcomes. 

The DestinationNEXT Futures Study identifies the trends and opportunities that will shape the future of destination marketing and management and makes for a fascinating read. The most recent research identified five key roles for destination organizations to focus on in the future. These roles are: Curators; Adopters; Catalysts; Activists; and Collaborators. Further research findings can be accessed and downloaded from the 2017 study.
An enjoyable and informative evening was enjoyed by all, with DLP alumni and the programme team looking forward to exchanging further tourism insights with Tourism Vancouver and CEO Ty Speer regarding their respective destinations. 


Destination Leaders Programme picks up a win at the THELMAs

The THELMAs, now in their ninth year, recognise outstanding work across the professional services and administration of the UK's world-leading higher education institutions.

A drive to improve the quality of leadership and collaboration in the tourism sector secured the Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative title for Edinburgh Napier University.

The Destination Leadership Programme, delivered in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, is specifically designed to "enhance the visitor experience and secure competitive advantage" for Scottish tourism. The programme runs from October to April, outside the main tourism season, and consists of four one-day workshops, three residential weekends and an assessed leadership project.

Participants have already come from tour operators, visitor attractions, festivals, events and accommodation providers. Tourism academics and professionals from across the globe have taken part as guest speakers, while partners such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia and the National Museum of Scotland have shared their expertise or premises. The programme has also included "learning journeys" to destinations such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Manchester.

A cohort of more than 60 alumni now remain in touch through social media and frequent events. Spin-off projects include a Women in Tourism network, research into whether Edinburgh is ready to capitalise on the Chinese market and a joint marketing campaign between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A shortened version of the programme has already been delivered in Singapore to the Association of Singapore Attractions.

The judges described the programme as "an exemplar of a university working effectively to transform a key sector in the economy through collaboration with employers", adding that "the response of the industry itself has been extremely positive".

THE editor John Gill said:

"Once again we've seen examples of exceptional performance in the most important areas of university leadership, management and administration. At a time of ever greater competition in higher education, our hope is that by shining a light on these winners, institutions will learn from one another to improve the quality of what they do across the board.

Anyone working in a UK university will know how dedicated and resourceful their colleagues are, but it’s our great honour to be able to showcase these examples from across the country."

New Cohort of Destination Leaders Graduate from Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and Tayside

Twenty tourism and hospitality industry professionals from Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Angus and Perthshire graduated from the award-winning Scottish Enterprise Tourism Destination Leaders Programme at Edinburgh Napier University on Thursday 18 May 2017.

This concludes Year 4 of the programme’s delivery and brings to a total of seventy-nine Alumni now with an Executive Certificate in Leadership from Edinburgh Napier University

The group heard from Linda Hanna, Managing Director of Sectors and Strategy, Scottish Enterprise, about the importance of leadership in delivering a strong and vibrant tourism economy. Linda highlighted the significantly higher levels of growth achieved by companies and destinations with strong leaders and encouraged the graduates to apply their learning to challenges such as Brexit and to take opportunities to further strengthen the networks they’d developed over the period of the DLP programme.

A diverse and highly relevant range of DLP group projects were completed, focusing on key challenges facing both Aberdeen and Dundee to develop into leading tourism destinations. Subjects ranged from Aberdeen’s development as a Business Tourism destination linked to significant investment in a new Conference and Exhibition Centre and how to capitalise on Dundee’s designations as UNESCO City of Design, in addition to the impending opening of the V & A Museum, Dundee. Participants completed a 2,500 word academic report and delivered a twenty-minute presentation to leading figures from the tourism industry in the two destinations. It is hoped that as in previous years, some of the projects will be developed further by the tourism industry. 

Steve Daun, Associations Sales Manager, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) said:

“The DLP course was extremely worthwhile and helped me to engage and network with fellow industry leaders.  The programme allowed me to learn from a wide range of speakers and I was able to connect with industry professionals from across Scotland, learn best practice and collaborate on joint projects to help transform our destination into a leading business tourism city.”

Suzanne Cumiskey, Business Development Projects Officer, Perth and Kinross Council said: “Participating in the DLP was an incredible opportunity to hear from international destination leaders on successfully developing destinations, with each speaker demonstrating that with clear vision and strong leadership anything is possible. I found it a great way to personally develop and meet others in the tourism industry.”

Aileen Lamb, Tourism Manager, Scottish Enterprise said:The participants from Aberdeenshire and Tayside have come together to form strong networks which are already delivering benefits for tourism in these areas. Scottish Enterprise will work closely with the destination groups in both these areas to ensure DLP graduates are fully involved and encouraged to take on new leadership roles. We look forward to seeing the teams taking their projects forward to the community in their destinations to gauge interest, input and ultimately work with their destination to deliver the projects.”

The Destination Leaders Programme is open for 2017/2018 applications from tourism professionals in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Find key dates, how to apply and download the application form here.

Edinburgh Napier University Shortlisted for 2017 THELMA Award for DLP

Edinburgh Napier University has been shortlisted for a 2017 THELMA Award (Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards) for the Destination Leaders Programme, in the category of Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative.

The THELMAs, in their 9th year, recognise the best examples of innovation, teamwork and enterprise at academic institutions, and are free to enter and open to anyone working in UK higher education.  

For the Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative, the award recognises a strategic and innovative approach to delivering employers' workforce needs. Judges look for new ways of working with employers and more, including evidence of positive impact on businesses.

The winners will be announced on Thursday 22 June 2017 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Follow the progress of the awards and finalists on Twitter via @dlpscot and #thelmas.

The DLP recently received an award for Leadership in the Visitor Economy at the Association for Tourism in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference, sponsored by The Tourism Society, in December 2016.

All involved in DLP are delighted at this recognition of the programme to date, and the impact of industry collaboration across alumni and participants. 

Collaborating to Compete

dlp courseDeveloped by Scottish Enterprise, the Destination Leaders Programme is a first in Europe and since May 2017, eighty individuals have graduated with an Executive Certificate in Destination Leadership, awarded by Edinburgh Napier University.

DLP Year 3 participants from Edinburgh and Glasgow took part in their first workshop on Destination Development on October 2015 at the University of Strathclyde Technology & Innovation Centre, Glasgow, which included presentations from Claes Bjerkne and Professor Leo Jago of the University of Surrey. 

Amanda Wrathall, Sales Manager for the EICC said: "I was absolutely delighted to be part of the 3rd Destination Leaders Programme. The group worked well together after only two meetings - and it has been interesting to learn as two very different destinations we face many of the same challenges. By sharing our experiences both cities have benefited on this joint learning journey. The quality of guest speakers has already been fantastic and I enjoyed hearing from other international experts on how to create world class destinations".

DLP News Archive:

Leading from the ‘inside out’ by Pip Haydock

Pip Haydock is Lead Facilitator on the Destination Leaders Programme Module Defining Leadership and Managing Director of ‘The 2Gether Partnership.’