Strengthening of Tourism Statistical Systems and Development of Tourism Satellite Accounts for the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States

09 Jun 17

The new vision of the Statistical Centre for the Cooperation Council for the Arab Countries of the Gulf (GCC-STAT) aims to prepare Strategic Planning and Road Maps for Development to 2020 for 11 economic sectors including tourism.  The GCC Member States comprise Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Taking into account the experience of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in developing the internationally recognized methodologies for setting up national tourism statistical systems and measurement of Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA), GCC-STAT requested UNWTO’s technical assistance in the preparation of the road map for the tourism sector with a view towards harmonization of the collection and analysis of tourism statistical and related economic data.

Given that UNWTO has, or is currently, providing technical assistance in tourism statistics to Oman, Qatar and the UAE, it was agreed that UNWTO would undertake assessment missions to Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as a first step, to analyse the current status of their respective tourism statistical systems and areas for improvement.

The missions were successfully conducted between to April-May 2017.  The next step is for UNWTO to prepare a report for GCC-STAT with a view to developing a long-term project which would strengthen the national tourism statistical systems of the GCC countries with a view towards harmonization of the data on a regional basis; establish an institutional context that is conducive to statistical capacity-building by encouraging organizational and institutional partnerships; and transfer technical expertise to strengthen the human resource component of statistical capacity.

It is notable that tourism, in each country of GCC Member States, has its own unique set of parameters, and identifying its specificities will help in designing a statistical system that responds to the country’s particular needs. In that respect, the evaluation process involved all national stakeholders so that conclusions and recommendations emerged from collective discussions and tailored to each national situation and to the priorities formulated by the National Tourism Authority (NTA).