The Greek Tourism Ministry on Friday presented 2015 tourism data from a pilot Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) system, the result of an EU funded grant project implemented within the framework of the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS).
For years, tourism bodies have requested a TSA in Greece in order to have a more comprehensive picture of Greece’s arrivals and revenue. Through TSAs it can be known what is allocated to the domestic economy from what tourists (inbound or domestic) spend in Greece.
According to the Tourism Ministry, the pilot TSA system sets the foundations for the operation of TSAs in Greece.
“We now know what method to follow, we know what our deficiencies were, we know what errors have been made so far regarding the available statistics… With the assistance of ELSTAT (Hellenic Statistical Authority), we will try to achieve what we did not have until today,” Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Georgios Tziallas said while introducing the project during an event in Athens.
According to the ministry, the pilot project has shown the way for Greece to obtain a reliable and comprehensive picture of tourism figures, scientifically documented and in accordance with modern international practices, as an indispensable tool for the development of the national tourism policy.
The pilot TSA system project was carried out by Austrian statistician expert Peter Hackl from the Vienna University of Economics and Business and Dr Stavros Chatzimarinakis from the Research Laboratory and Satellite Tourism Accounts of University of Patras.
Through the project they give a proposal on how to develop TSAs for Greece, which includes the evaluation of the available statistical data (up to 2015), the identification of necessary adjustments and proposals for improvements. The Bank of Greece and ELSTAT, the main providers of tourism statistics, collaborated on the project.
For the implementation of the project, all the latest available statistics were used to implement TSA tables regarding the demand side — inbound, outbound and domestic tourism — and the comparison between the tourism demand and tourism supply.
Underlining the importance of TSA’s for policymakers, Chatzimarinakis said: “TSA framework provides a deeper analysis of tourism expenditure, analyzed by classes of visitors — it separates overnight visitors and same-day visitors — and it reports tourist expenditure by products… This is important as it gives a possibility to identify and monitor the relationship between the tourism industry and the rest of the economy, which is useful for policies focused on strengthening the linkage between tourism consumption and domestic production, which is very important for policy-making.”
Next steps: How the TSA can operate routine-wise
In regards to what next steps need to be taken in order to transform the pilot exercise of the TSA project in a routine-wise used tool, statistician expert Peter Hackl said that the requirements to do this job is to have the data and the methodology.
“The only institution in the position to do this is ELSTAT,” statistician expert Peter Hackl said. He noted however that ELSTAT currently has no expert in TSA and has limited human resources as well as limited financial resources.
The future TSA for Greece also requires a close cooperation with the Bank of Greece with respect to the data from the Frontier Survey and the Balance of Payments. The Tourism Ministry will also play an important role as provider of administrative data, e.g., as a source for updating the register of tourism enterprises.
According to Hackl, if prompt action is taken, it seems realistic to expect that Tourism Satellite Accounts of sufficient quality will be published by 2019 for the reference year 2017.
ELSTAT: The TSA for Greece still needs time to grow
Underlining that the pilot TSA project is an important tool, the president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), Athanasios Thanopoulos, said that he is willing to cooperate for its implementation, since “the physical presence and development of a TSA is the national statistical authority of each country.”
Speaking to GTP Headlines, Thanopoulos underlined that “we should not be left with the impression that a TSA has been developed” and now ELSTAT has the responsibility. “This pilot project is very useful but the TSA still needs time to grow,” he said.
“As ELSTAT, what we need to do is to integrate it into our own statistical program and our own work flow… It is in our immediate plans to discuss this,” he said.
Thanopoulos added that the current lack of a TSA is not something that prevents the service from doing its job, as it is mainly a tool for policymakers and not for a statistical authority.
“However, this does not negate the fact that we are interested in having it so that we can be more useful to some key users whether it is the government, chambers or tourism professionals,” he said.
Moreover, Thanopoulos added that once ELSTAT begins to evaluate and integrate the pilot TSA into its work flow, it expects the cooperation and provision of data from policymakers and tourism bodies. “Because without data, we can not have statistics,” he said.
The pilot TSA project was part of the “Technical Assistance action to support tourism planning and policy for the promotion of sustainable tourism development in Greece”, implemented within the framework of the European Commission’s SRSS. The project launched in July 2016 and had a total duration of 14 months. The overall objective of the project was to support the Greek Tourism Ministry in the promotion of sustainable tourism policies, instruments and investments to make tourism an effective tool for economic development. Other issues focused in the project included boosting education and training in Greek tourism and developing new alternative tourist products.