Something that we really pride ourselves on at Edinburgh Napier is that we're a practice-based organisation. We love to work with industry and it's really important for academics not just to be inside the university, but also to understand what's happening outside and to work collaboratively with industry.
Professor Jane Ali-Knight, Tourism Research Centre, Edinburgh Napier University

Our Destination Leaders Programme 

Edinburgh Napier University has a strong track record of working with businesses and organisations to develop and deliver bespoke continuous professional development (CPD) short courses, in a variety of field and specialty areas, to support advanced training and upskilling of workforces. 


Following internationally-acclaimed initiatives originating from Melbourne, Australia, there was recognition from the Scottish Government that the Scottish tourist industry could benefit from similar leadership training that would equip emerging tourism leaders with the skills, knowledge and networks that they need to become effective destination leaders.


Working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Edinburgh Napier University created and delivered the Destination Leadership Programme (DLP), an award-winning, academically accredited continuing professional development (CPD) course, based on practice-based learning. 


Boosting Scotland's tourism sector through effective leadership training 

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 visitor experience.

The Destination Leaders Programme (DLP) was initially funded by Scottish Enterprise and during COVID was funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland, as part of the Scottish Tourism Leadership Programme.

Award-winning practice-based learning  

The DLP is an innovative way of looking at leadership within the tourism sector. As well as a classroom experience, the programme also included a significant amount of self-driven learning, as well as international learning journeys - visiting destinations such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen to allow participants to immerse in a new international tourism destination and get behind-the-scenes insights and gain first-hand knowledge of how a competitor destination works.

In addition to helping participants to develop their skills and capabilities as leaders, it also facilitated improvements in their businesses’ performance, thereby contributing to a boost to the Scottish tourism sector. Many participants attribute taking part in this programme to their career progression – from moving up to more senior positions, to starting their own businesses, or developing wider valuable industry collaborations.

Edinburgh Napier University ran the programme for over ten years, and its legacy has established a supportive network of over 300 DLP alumni tourism leaders from across Scotland’s top visitor attractions. The programme has been shortlisted for many awards, including winning the Times Higher Education (THE) Leadership and Management Awards in 2017.

Find out how Edinburgh Napier can help your organisation with its skills development requirements through bespoke CPD courses that ensure your workforce is fit for the future.

Get the napier effect
We wanted to see innovation happening within the Scottish tourism sector and we definitely saw that type of outcome. The collaboration experience that we had with Edinburgh Napier University, from the very beginning, was a really honest, open partnership approach. The team at Edinburgh Napier have always been super interested in understanding their client and what our needs have been.
Aileen Lamb, Scottish Enterprise

Our Tourism Research Centre

Research and knowledge exchange activities through our Tourism Research Centre help to drive economic, social and cultural recovery and growth across global destinations and communities.

Find out more about the Centre here