The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission gathered national tourism policy makers and statisticians in Brussels to advance in the implementation of the measurement of the economic impact through Tourism Satellite Accounts.
As 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, the two institutions co-organized the Workshop “Measuring the economic impact of tourism in Europe: the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA)”, in collaboration with Eurostat. The event, hosted by DG GROW, was held in Brussels, Belgium on 29-30 November, 2017.
Bringing together over 100 policy makers (data users) and tourism statisticians and TSA compilers (data producers) from EU Member States and COSME  countries, the Workshop helped to bridge better understanding and entice collaboration amongst these key stakeholders.
“The economic importance of tourism in the European Union is increasingly recognized and better understood, partly thanks to the development of TSA in some EU Member States. It is important to create cohesion around this theme and we hope that the EU becomes an example in this regard to guide the rest of the regions,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
A sense of optimism for tourism measurement and TSA in Europe emerged, 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 have 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.
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 Conference held under the patronage of H.H. Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers of Oman, brought together Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Culture as well as private sector stakeholders and experts with the objective of building and strengthening partnerships between the tourism and culture sectors and enhance their role in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.