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September 22, 2017

The World Tourism Organization joins forces with the World Tourism Cities Federation


As tourism has become a powerful engine for the local economic and social development of cities, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has partnered with the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) to develop an instrument that can measure the performance of the sector in metropolitan areas. Under the title ‘UNWTO-WTCF City Tourism Performance Research’ the project will include a set of criteria and a platform for information.

According to UN Habitat (2050, 70% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. By 2025, metropolitan areas will contribute over 30 trillion US dollars annually to the world economy. As tourism currently accounts as a central component in the economic, social and geographical development of many cities it is essential to monitor tourism performance in urban destinations and clearly address the areas for improvement. As stated by UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, “city tourism should go hand by hand with sustainable development; preserving environmental treasures together with tangible and intangible heritage should be parallel to the importance of engaging local communities”.

The partnership between UNWTO and WTCF to measure city tourism will assist policy makers and all stakeholders in their efforts to take strategic action for better urban tourism governance and sustainable management.

The project includes research on City Tourism Performance collecting information about the existing systems to measure city tourism performance worldwide. A total of 16 cities located in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin American participated in the survey. The exercise will allow to define a set of criteria that can constitute the best possible assessment of city tourism performance at a reasonable cost.

“Cities provide an important vehicle for world tourism development. Launched in 2015, the UNWTO-WTCF City Tourism Performance Research Programme has conducted a comprehensive analysis of 16 tourism cities in the world in the five areas:  destination management, economic perspective, social and cultural perspectives, environmental perspective as well as technology & new business models. The findings offer very useful guidance for promoting sustainable development in cities around the world,” said the Secretary General of WTCF, Song Yu.

Applying the UNWTO-WTCF City Tourism Performance Research Survey requires involving different stakeholders’ groups. Data is collected at the city level by the tourism experts identified by UNWTO and WTCF. Some of the performance criteria can be collected from the official data sources from cities such as Census and household surveys although expert interviews are necessary to have a more in-depth understanding of each city.

The detailed survey, used by the experts, provides a detailed description of all performance criteria and includes a data collection sheet and a questionnaire tailor-made for interviews with representatives of the main stakeholder groups.

The results of the research conducted in the Asia-Pacific Region were presented last weekend in Tianjin, China and later this month on 26 September in Buenos Aires, Argentina a second workshop will discuss the results of the Latin American cities, aiming to create a platform to give recommendations to those cities on the selected key performance areas and to give general indications to all cities on recent challenges in urban tourism.

The 16 different city cases will be compiled in a publication free of charge on the UNWTO website which will serve as a guideline on how cities can improve their future implementation of tourism development.

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