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Research project Tourism is often regarded as a remedy for alleviating regional disparities and a soft means for socioeconomic balance, especially in peripheral areas. Nevertheless, tourism is also associated with negative impacts on regions, such as pollution, congestion, inflation, displacement etc. Ultimately, all these challenges could partly be attributed to lack of professional institutions capable of managing the regions as destinations – in other words; the Destination Management Organizations (DMOs).
Not all regions of the world benefit largely from tourism’s contributions. The Muslim world, despite its huge potential as both a tourist receiving and a generating region, misses out on its fair share, with very few exceptions. On the contrary, the future looks brighter as the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) has prioritized tourism as a specific area of cooperation, serving for the three core principles of mobility enhancement, solidarity building and governance improvement. The objective for development of a sustainable and competitive tourism sector, in pursuit of such vision, is then strategically operationalized by focusing on the five output areas: regulatory frameworks, capacity building and training, private sector involvement, community-based tourism (CBT), and marketing. Recently, both the meetings of the COMCEC Tourism Working Group and the higher level resolutions have had their foci on the destination paradigm. One major finding was confirmed as most COMCEC countries having lack of a developed regional DMO concept, especially in their peripheral areas. Herein, the research project “Destination Management Organization: Conceptual Framework for Azerbaijan, Cameroon and Iran” will serve to fill in an important gap of this current initiative. The project ultimately aims for suggesting regionalized destination management frameworks in the three study countries, with particular attention on the peripheral regions and informed by global best practices, especially in the two leading tourism countries of the OIC – Malaysia and Turkey.