Purpose: This paper seeks to reflect on the impacts of the pandemic on the management of tourist destinations, discussing the role of destination-management organizations in the tourism development model, as well as the challenges that these organizations must address to ensure an effective construction of a more sustainable and competitive tourism. Design/methodology/approach: The methodology is based on a literature review linking destination management with pandemic and post-pandemic responses. Findings: The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedent shock to the tourism industry's growth model since World War II, challenging tourism stakeholders (destinations and companies) with several threats and opportunities to their future competitiveness. In addition to the massive impacts in terms of business development, the abrupt reduction of tourism demand and the significative loss of jobs, the pandemic also caused significant disruption in terms of destination-management models. In less than four months, the focus of Governments and Destination Management Organizations shifted from defining development models compatible with improving the quality of life of residents due to the emergence of the so-called overtourism phenomenon, to the urgent need to support the industry's survival, to preserve jobs and ensure conditions of safety for tourists and workers. Originality/value: Demonstrates the need for a profound change in the paradigm of destination management so that the sector is prepared to face future shocks. It also proposes further discussion on the role of destination management in the recovery process of the tourism sector in global terms, given the challenges that these organizations face. The article also considers the ways in which destination management can be a fundamental tool in the process of building a more inclusive, sustainable and competitive future.