Most countries in southern Africa still use tourism data collecting tools or processes that are not yet compliant with United Nations World Tourism Organisations (UNWTO) standards or definitions and as a result tourism statistics that are produced or disseminated by these countries are not comparable with other countries on the continent or globally.
UNWTO identified this lack of uniformity in tourism statistics produced by members states and since this challenge is compounded by the lack of financial and personnel resources as well as the poor emphasis on the importance of the tourism data, it embarked on an initiative to build capacity in tourism statistics for English speaking Africa member countries and to elevate the importance of tourism statistics in their countries. South Africa was identified as a leader in this area of tourism statistics and this resulted in it being nominated to act as the regional hub for the capacity building programme for the Africa Region.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the secretary-general of the UNWTO and the Minister of Tourism whom tasked South Africa with hosting four capacity building workshops and one regional seminar from 2007/09 for member states. To date two workshops have been hosted and a third one is scheduled for 23 to 26 November 2009 at the Emperors Palace, in Kempton Park, Gauteng.
The objective of the workshop, which will be opened by the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk and the Secretary General of the UNWTO Mr Taleb Rifai, is to ensure that all member states adopt and use UN statistical standards and definitions as well as documenting available tourism statistics and administrative records to measure tourism activity and its contribution to the economy of the country. The member states participating in the programme are Botswana, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
South Africas leadership in tourism statistics is evident in the recently launched Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), in May this year and this important milestone will allow the calculation of tourisms contribution to the economy of the country, because the TSA is an accounting framework adopted by the United Nations (UN) to measure goods and services associated with tourism according to international standards, concepts, classifications and definitions.
The TSA provide stakeholders (governments, entrepreneurs and citizens) with reliable data to assist them in the design of public policies and business strategies for tourism and for the evaluation of their efficiency. This capacity building initiative is hoped to capacitate all member states to be able to also produce TSA for their own countries.
A media briefing has been scheduled for 23 November from 11 to 12 am at the Emperors Palace in Kempton Park. It will be addressed by Minister van Schalkwyk and Mr Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the UNWTO.
Media wishing to attend can confirm attendance with:
Tel: 012 310 3310
Cell: 083 758 0553
E-mail: [email protected]
Issued by: Department of Tourism
19 November 2009