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Role of tourism statistics in economic development tackled at WTO meet
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Rachel Castro-Barawid
Date: 2003-06-17
The World Tourism Organization (WTO) yesterday underscored the need for a country to come up with an effective tool to measure the economic impacts of tourism during the second day of a technical workshop participated in by over 25 nations at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

The timely proposal of WTO, the Madrid-based leading international organization in travel and tourism, was made during the Tourism Satellite Account Workshop (June 16-17) that kicked off the five-day series of events in Manila organized by the WTO and the Department of Tourism (DoT).

Antonio Massieu, WTO chief for Statistics and Economic Measurement of Tourism urged tourism ministers, industry leaders and practitioners of countries in the Asian Region, including the Philippines to develop a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) that will help determine the importance and benefits of tourism to the economy; and ultimately help achieve international comparability and credibility.

Massieu pointed out that nations must recognize the valuable contributions of tourism “in the generation of GDP (primary income of a country); net foreign earnings; of tax earnings; of employment; of output and demand in a variety of activities and products; in maintaining a balance between regions and stopping the migration of population to major cities; and in its participation in the preservation and enhancement of natural resources and historical heritage.”

“The TSA is not a bible, it is just to be taken as guidelines that will serve as a useful instrument in measuring tourism statistics,” he clarified.

According to him, the TSA is a macroeconomic framework that has a philosophical approach, theoretical context and empirical instruments to measure and verify main trends of an activity. It provides a complex statistical instrument indispensable to measure the economic impact of tourism. The system also includes a set of tools to make a proper description and analysis of tourism.

In the development of the TSA, Massieu said it is important to involve national statistics offices, the unit involved in compiling national accounts. The governments or in some nations, national tourism administrations must also keep a close collaboration between the private sector who are the main providers and users of information and the potential users of information on tourism such as universities, research institutions, etc.

As a preliminary step in the development of a TSA, the WTO expert proposed that each country adopt a set of indicators which are of macroeconomic nature and on tourism activity. The creation of this, Massieu noted, will make it possible to perform an analysis of the economic impacts of tourism on a country’s overall economic activity, before taking on the full development of the TSA.

Through this, Massieu said it will be possible to see tourism’s place in the context of the national economies in terms of its relative weight in the economy, whether or not the country has decided to carry out the TSA.

After learning the step-by-step process in developing the macroeconomic indicators and eventually the TSA, the delegates were given concrete examples on how other countries are coming up with their own. The Philippines’ status on the development of a TSA was reported by Dr. Romulo A. Virola, secretary general of the National Statistics Coordination Board. Further in-depth case studies on the creation of a TSA for Malaysia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Australia were also presented by respective country representatives, Malaysian deputy sec. gen. Shahril Bin Saat of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism; Tourism Authority of Thailand director of Planning Dept. Auggaphon Brickshawana; J.N. Dash, joint director general for Market Research of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of India; Adi Lumaksono, chief of Tourism Statistics Division of the BPS Statistics Indonesia and Rusman Heriawan of the Statistics Bureau; and Stan Fleetwood, research manager of the Tourism Division, Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources of Australia.


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