A Closer Look at Tourism: Sub-national Measurement and Analysis — INRouTe-UNWTO Collaboration —

A Closer Look at Tourism: Sub-national Measurement and Analysis — INRouTe-UNWTO Collaboration —


Tourism is an economic phenomenon concerning the movement of people to places outside their usual environment for either personal or business/professional purposes. As such, tourism has implications for the economy, for the natural and built environment, for the local population at the destination and for the visitors themselves. Due to these multiple impacts, UNWTO encourages an interdisciplinary approach in the formulation and implementation of national and sub-national tourism policies.

INRouTe adopts UNWTO's positionning of the United Nations international standards approved in 2008 (International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics 2008 and Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008) as the foundation for the measurement of tourism and sustainable development at the national, but also at the regional and local levels.

Tourism should thus be understood as a phenomenon that is territory-contingent, with flows and activities occurring unevenly across countries, regions, municipalities or any other territorial entity. The close link between tourism and territory exists not only because the natural or built territory is often the main tourism attraction (an exotic beach, a vibrant city), but also because the territory, and movements across it, largely condition tourism trips, the nature of the supply that caters to visitor consumption and, consequently, the relationship to potential welfare.

The Sixth International Tourism Forum for Parliamentarians and Local Authorities (Cebu/Philipines, 22-25 October 2008), organized by UNWTO and The Philippines national tourism administration, formally requested UNWTO to design guidelines for those (sub-national) regions where tourism plays a particularly relevant role. In addition, the TSA:RMF 2008 mentions that “there are various reasons for encouraging discussion on how the TSA can be adapted to the subnational level”. Also, the IRTS 2008 mentions that “increasingly, regional tourism authorities are interested in regional statistics and possibly some form of TSA at regional level as a means of providing useful indicators for tourism enterprises and organizations in identifying possible business opportunities, assessing the volume and intensity of tourism business and determining the extent to which private and public regional tourism networks and clusters are interconnected”.

To this purpose, UNWTO signed a cooperation agreement with the International Network on Regional Economics, Mobility and Tourism (INRouTe) —a non-profit association dedicated to advancing policy-oriented measurement and analysis of tourism in order to provide guidance to entities involved with regional and local tourism destinations. Through this agreement, INRouTe provides technical support to UNWTO. Central to this support is assistance in the development of a conceptual framework sufficiently robust for the sub-national measurement, monitoring, and analysis of tourism, so essential for designing policies that properly address today’s challenges and opportunities. Such a conceptual framework will be presented to UNWTO in the form of guidance documents. Based on this, UNWTO will design a set of general guidelines for the measurement of tourism from the sub-national perspective.

“Towards a Set of UNWTO Guidelines” (english) (french) (spanish) is the first in the A Closer Look at Tourism: Sub-national Measurement and Analysis series of guidance documents. It provides an overview of the INRouTe – UNWTO initiative, its objective, proposed recommendations and agenda for what is proposed as the first step to develop basic statistical information for regions and other sub-national territorial aggregations: the setup of a Regional Tourism Information System (R-TIS).

This will be crucial for a better measurement and understanding of domestic tourism flows and their economic contributions, an issue recurrently highlighted by several UNWTO Member States as being of utmost importance.

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