UNWTO and RETOSA jointly hosted a Statistics Training Workshop on 8-9 September 2011

UNWTO and RETOSA jointly hosted a Statistics Training Workshop on 8-9 September 2011

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the Regional Tourism Organisation for Southern Africa (RETOSA)jointly hosted a training workshop on 8-9 September 2011 in Johannesburg  for Southern African tourism and statistics officials in the framework of its National Statistical Capacity Building Programme (NSCBP). The two day workshop was attended by officials from Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The NSCBP was launched by UNWTO in 2010 as a new programme to provide technical assistance to its Member States to review and improve national systems of tourism statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts. The Programme, which is open to all Member States, is structured to deliver technical assistance in accordance with a country’s level of statistical development and its priority needs for the further development of its tourism statistics.

Since December 2011, UNWTO and RETOSA have partnered to deliver technical assistance to thirteen RETOSA Member States for the development of their national systems of tourism statistics. As part of the first phase of the programme, an evaluation mission was fielded to each country to conduct a situation analysis and undertake a detailed review of national systems of tourism statistics in close collaboration with senior tourism and statistics officials. The missions identified key areas for further development, including data collection instruments and improved mechanisms for cross governmental coordination. These subsequently formed the basis for the preparation of individual country action plans.

The Johannesburg workshop was organised following the completion of the programme’s first phase to bring together officials from the participating countries in order to present the main outcomes and findings from the programme. The workshop gave participants a broad perspective of the importance of a robust system of tourism statistics for more effective industry monitoring, planning and policy making at the national level in an increasingly competitive industry. Dr Harsh Varma, UNWTO Director of Technical Cooperation, highlighted that “in order for National Tourism Administrations and organisations to operate effectively, it is essential that accurate information and data are at their disposal. Tourism data and statistics constitute the critical basis for undertaking effective tourism planning, development and marketing strategies, which form the backbone of a successful tourism sector.”

An overview of the key challenges and areas to be addressed was also presented on a country-by-country basis to address the specific themes that national tourism administrations and statistics offices should give greater attention.  This illustrated the common challenges that many countries are experiencing, such as the absence of data, but also highlighted the progress made by a number of countries which have made significant strides in developing the capacity of its tourism statistics, some of which have prepared experimental Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSAs). Finally, the workshop also explored the modalities of extending further technical assistance in the future through a regional approach, particuarly in ongoing training initiatives. During the workshop a range of views were heard from the participants relating to the results of the programme and the current situations in their respective countries.

It was decided at the workshop that as part of their ongoing collaboration, UNWTO and RETOSA will jointly organise two train-the-trainer workshops during the first quarter of 2012.