“Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development”, was the theme of this year’s seminar in the context of the 61st Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa (Abuja, Nigeria, 4-6 June). The meeting included a ministerial dialogue on the importance of tourism statistics under the topic “Better measure, better manage”.
The Commission for Africa attracted 18 tourism ministers from the region and key tourism stakeholders from 36 countries. Participants underscored how tourism projects can contribute to poverty alleviation, the importance of finding innovative approaches to developing tourism in the region, and the need to find and foster new partnerships and resources to develop the sector.
Against the backdrop of the growth of international tourism in Africa, tourism’s overall economic impact needs to be measured accurately in order for tourism strategies to effectively contribute to national economies. The ministerial dialogue addressed the significance of collecting and compiling quantitative and qualitative data, as well as the importance of commitments from national stakeholders and institutional partnerships for a rigorous tourism statistics system.
“The priorities of my mandate have been formed by listening to the needs of our member states and include the crucial targets of creating more and better tourism jobs, improving tourism education and fostering innovation”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. “We need to build tight links between public and private sectors for tourism to transform growth across the continent, and for the benefit of its people”, he added.
The meeting was attended by the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, who stated that “Nigeria has great potentials for tourism and investment”, underscoring the relevance of the sector, both regarding its contribution to sustainable development and its role to further diversify the economy and increase social resilience.
In this context, the need for establishing a Statistical Framework for the Measurement of Sustainable Tourism (MST) was addressed. This Framework includes environmental, social and cultural tourism components geared towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.