National tourism policy makers and statisticians recently attended a workshop in Brussels and discussed the significance of the Tourism Satellite Accounts to measure the economic impact of the sector in Europe.
The workshop was co-organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission, in collaboration with Eurostat.
TSA is an instrument to measure and monitor the economic impact of tourism and links data on tourism to the broader economy. It is an accounting framework enabling the measurement and international comparison of the contribution of tourism to job creation, economic growth and the generation of wealth.
The workshop brought together over 100 policy makers (data users) and tourism statisticians and TSA compilers (data producers) from EU Member States, aiming to bridge better understanding and entice collaboration amongst these key stakeholders.
According to the UNWTO, a sense of optimism for tourism measurement and TSA in Europe emerged through the workshop, alongside the realization that TSA is beyond a technical exercise, very much a strategic endeavor for the tourism sector.
The workshop was conducted with expertise from the European Commission (including Eurostat), UNWTO, UN Statistics Division (UNSD), Statistics Austria, the National Statistical Office of the Czech Republic, Destination Canada and Statistics Malaysia.
The topics debated ranged from technical inputs to governance issues and political leadership, all elements necessary for a successful TSA implementation. The participants exchanged ideas on the current status of the different national TSAs, their specificities and how to build the capacities and enabling environments for furthering their development. A key conclusion was that the challenges of TSA development in Europe have less to do with technical expertise and more with resource, communication, and political engagement.
The discussions also emphasized the need to improve timeliness, while maintaining credibility, and fostering partnerships and dialogue between data producers and users. Reliable aggregated TSA estimates are key for strong tourism policy making which aims to support a sustainable and resilient tourism sector.
The workshop was part of the events connected to the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and within the framework of the cooperation between UNWTO and DG GROW.
Regarding Greece, tourism bodies have requested a TSA in order to have a more comprehensive picture of the country’s arrivals and revenue. In September, tourism data from a pilot Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) system was presented by the Greek Tourism Ministry. The Greek tourism sector now awaits for the pilot exercise of the TSA project to evolve into a routine-wise used tool.