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July 25, 2017

Manila Call for Action on Measuring Sustainable tourism

UNWTO issued the Manila Call for Action on Measuring Sustainable Tourism:

We, the representatives of tourism, economic, environmental and other related administrations, statistical institutes, international and regional organizations, the private sector, the academia and civil society, gathered at the 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics: Measuring Sustainable Tourism, organized by the Government of the Philippines and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on 21-24 June 2017 in Manila, the Philippines, and on the occasion of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, 2017:

1. Acknowledge that sustainable tourism contributes to the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as affirmed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly when announcing the adoption of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, 20171.

2. Draw attention to the fact that tourism has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. With over 1.2 billion international overnight visitors and many more domestic visitors in 2016, the sector represents approximately 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally. This growth comes with the need to uphold the foundations of prosperity for tourism destinations: the rich natural resources of our planet and its diverse cultural heritage.

3. Recall that sustainable tourism is defined as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”2. Sustainable tourism should thus make optimal use of environmental resources, respect host communities and ensure viable, long-term economic operations so that benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.

4. Recognize that sustainable tourism drives inclusive economic growth and social development by promoting entrepreneurship, creating jobs and fighting poverty, and can also encourage environmental protection, cultural heritage preservation, and stronger peace and mutual understanding around the world, whilst leaving no one behind.

5. Recall that with the adoption of several UN General Assembly resolutions on the importance of sustainable tourism as a tool for development3 the need to better understand and track progress towards a sustainable global tourism sector is more pressing now than ever.

6. Are mobilized by the strong conviction that credible and comprehensive data on sustainable tourism is key for effective evidence-based policies and management in order to surmount current challenges and capitalize on opportunities thereof.

7. Appreciate the achievements made in tourism measurement over the past decades, in particular the two official UN statistical standards for measuring tourism adopted in 2008: the International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics 20084 and the Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended

Methodological Framework 20085. Together, these statistical frameworks enable countries to produce data that is credible and comparable –across countries, over time and in concert with other standards. These frameworks help integrate and organize data for the purposes of deriving indicators such as tourism GDP.

8. Advocate for the development of a Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST Framework) that extends these frameworks beyond their economic focus in order to incorporate environmental, social and cultural dimensions, across spatial levels (global, national and sub-national) and pay attention to temporal considerations.

9. Strongly believe that developing and implementing a MST Framework is the critical next step in understanding, analysing and supporting universal, cross-sectoral, sustainable tourism policies and practices that work from an integrated, coherent and robust information base.

10. Underline that the benefits of an MST Framework for decision makers and other stakeholders include:

a. The provision of a common language for discussing sustainable tourism within the tourism sector and with other key policy areas such as planning, industry, infrastructure, environment, social affairs, finance and central banks;

b. The capacity to compare the performance of the tourism sector and the impacts of different policies on a consistent basis with other sectors and in different destinations and countries;

c. The provision of a basis for improving co-ordination in data collection and compilation, as well as for improving institutional arrangements for the governance and management of statistics on sustainable tourism;

d. The provision of a single, coherent and comprehensive picture of the state of sustainable tourism and its trends, in all its dimensions and across all spatial scales.

11. Welcome the preliminary draft of the MST Framework as a launch pad with which to further the global discussion, and appreciate the significant progress achieved to date through pilot studies and other relevant work at international, national and subnational, including local levels, presented at this Conference. This reaffirms our conviction that an MST Framework is not only highly relevant but also feasible and most welcome.

12. Emphasize that information from the Framework will improve our ability to inform on vital and urgent policy questions on sustainable tourism; including questions such as:

How can the use of energy, water and other resources be optimized?

What are the trends in land use (including water and coastal areas) for tourism purposes?

What is the waste water and solid waste resulting from tourism activity and how is it dealt with?

What is the impact of visitors on cultural and heritage sites and how do they affect their preservation?

How to plan infrastructure needs with regards to transport, water, energy, treatment of waste and wastewater due to changing tourism patterns?

How is the tourism concentration in mature destinations evolving over time?

How do local communities benefit from tourism and how are they impacted by it?

What activities are being undertaken by tourism industries to maintain protected areas and other natural features (national parks, beaches) in good condition?

How does the environmental performance of the tourism sector compare to other sectors?

13. Acknowledge that designing and implementing an MST Framework is a priority in the context of measuring progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in response to the needs of governments and tourism stakeholders.

14. Recall that the United Nations recognizes UNWTO as the appropriate organization to collect, analyze, publish, standardize and improve the statistics of tourism globally, and to promote the integration of these statistics within the sphere of the UN system6.

15. Appreciate the work of UNWTO as the leading UN Specialized Agency for tourism in leading the development of an MST Framework through the Working Group of Experts on Measuring Sustainable Tourism, under the auspices of the UNWTO Committee on Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account, and in close cooperation with relevant partners and experts.

16. Welcome the support from the UN Statistical Commission7, the highest decision-making body in statistics globally, in developing a Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism that includes indicators for sustainable tourism, measurement at sub-national level and pilot projects, as well as the development of a compilation guide for the Tourism Satellite Account and a technical note linking the Tourism Satellite Account and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting.

17. Call upon all actors to facilitate the necessary means and resources for the development and subsequent in-country implementation of the MST Framework, note the opportunities to tap into the richness of data currently available and identifying gaps for producing any additional data that may be needed.

18. Stress the need for building capacity towards measuring sustainable tourism, taking into account the constraints and challenges of implementing statistical systems in developing countries.

19. Recognize that with regard to data collection all possible sources should be taken into account, including census, survey-based, administrative and big data.

20. Encourage that the Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism be presented to the United Nations Statistical Commission for its consideration in the UN Statistical Commission’s fifty-first session, to be held in 2020.

21. Emphasize that, beyond being a technical exercise, the development and implementation of an MST Framework is a strategic and ongoing endeavour, requiring wide and consistent stakeholder engagement, collaboration, inter-institutional coordination and political leadership.

22. Welcome the establishment by UNWTO of a special funding mechanism through voluntary contributions for the purpose of further development and implementation of the Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism8.

During this 6th International Conference on Tourism Statistics: Measuring Sustainable Tourism in Manila, Philippines, we unite political commitment and gather technical expertise to call for the development and implementation of the Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism that includes economic, environmental and social dimensions across relevant spatial levels (global, national and subnational). We call upon other governments and administrations at national and sub-national levels, international organizations, academia, private sector organizations and civil society to join our efforts.

We extend our sincere gratitude to our host, the Government of the Philippines, for its warm hospitality and excellent support and arrangements for the organization of the Conference, as well as its significant contribution to advancing the sustainable tourism agenda as a driver for sustainable development.

Manila, Philippines, 23 June 2017


1 UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/193 adopted on 22 December 2015. See http://statistics.unwto.org/mst for further information and for links to the documents mentioned in this call for action.

2 Making Tourism More Sustainable – A Guide for Policy Makers, UNEP and UNWTO, 2005.

3 For example, resolutions A/RES/69/233 (19 December 2014) and A/RES/71/240 (21 December 2016) both of which encouraged the promotion of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, for poverty eradication and environment protection, as well as resolution A/RES/70/1 (25 September 2015) on Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

4 Approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 39th session (26-29 February 2008): https://unstats.un.org/unsd/tradeserv/tourism/manual.html. It revises and replaces the previous 1993 Recommendations on Tourism Statistics (1993 RTS) adopted by the Commission in 1993.

5 Approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 31st session (29 February-3 March 2000) and replaced with the TSA: RMF 2008 (https://unstats.un.org/unsd/tradeserv/tourism/manual.html) at its 39th session (26-29 February 2008). The recommendations represent an update of a common conceptual framework for the design of the tourism satellite account that had been initially set up in 2000 by an Inter-secretariat Working Group convened by the United Nations Statistics Division, with the participation of the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

6 Resolution A/RES/58/232 adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 23 December 2003.

7 At its 48th Session (7-10 March 2017) during the discussion on the Report of the World Tourism Organization on tourism statistics and contained in Decision 48/115.

8 Such a special funding mechanism would operate under UNWTO’s Financial Rules and Regulations.

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