UNWTO and RETOSA hold joint Workshop on Tourism Statistics in Victoria Falls
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Regional Tourism Organisation for Southern Africa (RETOSA) organised a joint training workshop on tourism statistics from 5-8 December 2011 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The workshop was held in the framework of the joint UNWTO/RETOSA National Statistical Capacity Building Programme, which was launched last year to deliver technical assistance to RETOSA Member States. One of the main outcomes of the programme’s first phase was the need to provide additional training to national officials engaged in tourism data and statistics development in order to support the strengthening of national systems of tourism statistics in the region. It was agreed among members at a Johannesburg workshop in September this year to hold a series of further workshops to deliver training on a regional basis focusing on key themes arising from the common findings of the evaluation missions.
The workshop, which was hosted by the Government of Zimbabwe, attracted 47 officials from 10 Southern African countries* and delivered training sessions on key aspects of the system of tourism statistics. Dr. Harsh Varma, UNWTO Director of Technical Cooperation, said “a strong knowledge and evidence base is a mainstay for the effective development of national tourism policies, marketing and sectoral planning at the national and local level. As a sector that is susceptible to external influences, tourism is highly reliant on accurate and strong data in order for governments and businesses to react and respond to events affecting the sector on a timely basis”. A wide range of themes were addressed during the 4 day workshop, including on Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), inbound tourism statistics, measuring domestic and outbound tourism, sample survey techniques and methodologies, data handling, analysis and reporting. The workshop highlighted the importance of a TSA as a valuable tool in measuring the contribution of tourism to a national economy and also underscored the need for good cross governmental coordination and broad stakeholder participation to harmonise data and statistical processes. To this end, participants included tourism officials from National Tourism Administrations and National Tourism Organisations, as well as from Central Statistics Offices, Ministries of Finance and Central Banks. The workshop was designed to assist both policy makers and technical specialists in addressing the main challenges in their respective systems and identifying potential improvements. A number of case studies were presented to illustrate to participants best practices and challenges from the application of different systems. In his opening remarks, Mr. B.S. Maunganidze, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe, told delegates that “the Tourism Satellite Account is a very effective tool in placing tourism in the right context in the overall economic scenario of a country. It provides useful information to advocate the cause of tourism especially when it comes to resource allocation.” UNWTO and RETOSA will continue its partnership for the development of tourism statistics.
* Participating countries in the workshop included officials from Botswana, DR Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe.