Award-winning Destination Leaders Programme open for applications

Effective leadership is consistently identified as a key driver of growth for all business sectors, but tourism faces particular challenges, given the range, scale and mix of businesses that need to work together to deliver a great customer experience. The award-winning Destination Leaders Programme (DLP) funded by Scottish Enterprise, working alongside the Scottish tourism industry, and delivered by Edinburgh Napier University – is proving an innovative way to address this.

Based on an internationally acclaimed initiative originating from Melbourne, Australia, the Destination Leaders Programme (DLP) is specifically designed to address leadership issues, identify emerging tourism leaders and instil in them the skills, knowledge and networks that they need to become effective destination leaders.

The programme picked up an award for Leadership in the Visitor Economy at the Association for Tourism in Higher Education’s (ATHE) Conference in December 2016 and has been shortlisted in the prestigious 2017 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs) in the category of Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative. The award recognises a strategic and innovative approach to delivering employers’ workforce development needs, where judges look for new ways of working with employers.

Running from October to May, the DLP provides those working in the industry a unique mix of academic learning, practical case studies, local, national and international site visits, presentations from key industry speakers as well as group project development and practice-based learning. The first three programmes have been delivered to sixty tourism professionals, from destinations Edinburgh, Fife, Argyll and The Isles, and Glasgow; all of whom are now part of an active, engaged DLP alumni network. Year 4 DLP participants from Aberdeenshire and Tayside graduate in May 2017. 

Gordon Hodge, Head of Conferencing and Events, University of Strathclyde said: “The best part of DLP was the network of people. We heard from brilliant speakers: Brian King from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Amanda McMillan from Glasgow Airport, Jonas Wilstrup from Wonderful Copenhagen, for example. It built up a new, slightly different network and allowed me to see how my part of the organisation can have an impact on the economic development of the city. It lifts you out of the day to day and lets you look at what you’re doing in a more holistic way”.

Working together on the group leadership project, participants can conceive practical solutions to industry issues and create real impact for their sector. Several DLP group projects have evolved into industry initiatives, including Making Edinburgh China Ready, Youth Travel Edinburgh, Women in Tourism and a collaborative consumer campaign between Destinations Glasgow, Edinburgh and transport partner, Scotrail.

The programme is open to talented individuals who already have a strong track record in leadership within their own organisation and/or within their destination. They will also have demonstrable ambition, commitment and passion for developing themselves, their business and their destination.

Applications for the fifth DLP 2017/2018 programme are open (until 31 May 2017) for tourism professionals from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Download the application form, enquire via email or listen to DLP alumni talk about their experiences of the programme in DLP Impact Case Studies.

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