UNWTO and RETOSA hold 3rd Workshop on Tourism Statistics and TSA for Southern African Countries
From 4-7 September 2012, 40 participants from 9 Southern African countries gathered in Ezulwini, Swaziland, for a 3 day workshop on Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account. The participating countries included Botswana, DR Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Hosted by the Government of Swaziland, this was the third workshop that was organised by UNWTO and RETOSA in a series forming part of the joint national statistical capacity building programme (NSCBP) for Southern African countries which was established in 2010. The workshop aimed to take stock of the activities carried out by Member States on tourism statistics and the outcomes of the previous workshops. Addressing delegates at the opening session of the workshop, UNWTO’s Director of Technical Cooperation, Dr Harsh Varma, said that “an innovative approach has been adopted for the workshops through identifying critical issues and challenges by participants themselves and brought to fore through country presentations. Since countries are at different level of development, sometimes the challenges are unique and sometimes common. For common challenges, the workshops provide an excellent forum to discuss the issues and come to a consensus on resolving them. Through technical support from UNWTO, unique solutions are suggested for unique problems which are specific to a country”.
RETOSA Director Simba Mandinyenya expressed his thanks to UNWTO for the cooperation extended in the implementation of this important programme, which would undoubtedly bring long term benefits to the Member States when it comes to projecting the real economic significance of tourism. Mr Mandinyenya also reiterated RETOSA's commitment to take this programme forward and assist the member states in streamlining and strengthening their statistical system with a view to ultimately establishing a sound and scientific TSA.
Following from the outcomes of the workshop series thus far, the main objectives of the Swaziland workshop were to further deepen the knowledge and skills of public officials in tourism statistics; to review the progress made by individual countries; and to enable countries use real data for the preparation of TSAs. In this context the workshop sought to identify the challenges faced by countries in tourism data collection and statistical development and address the specific challenges highlighted by participants from both the supply and demand perspectives. A number of sessions were dedicated to demonstrating the key components and practical aspects of the System of Tourism Statistics and TSA, through technical presentations. As in the previous workshop, the interactive sessions were organised to support country groups in preparing their respective TSA tables, present their results and share knowledge.
The workshop benefitted from the participation of officials from Ministries of Finance, Immigration, Central Banks, National Bureaus of Statistics and academic institutions, which are also engaged in tourism statistics. This brought a wide range of expertise to the country teams to address the required technical disciplines, and consequently the interactive sessions demonstrated the considerable progress made by individual countries in several areas. A number of country specific and common issues faced by national administrations were also highlighted, such as variances in statistical definition and the role of Inter-Institutional Platforms (IIPs), the latter of which is a fundamental tool for the progressive development of national tourism data and statistics and coordinated government action. Dr Varma stressed to participants the importance of forming an IIP in each country as early as possible “as this is an essential pre-requisite for the establishment of TSA.”