UN Unveils Groundbreaking Global Standard for Measuring Tourism Sustainability – Travel And Tour World

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The Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) is now the globally recognized standard for evaluating the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of tourism. Its endorsement by the UN Statistical Commission during its 55th session (27 February – 1 March 2024) represents a significant achievement in the quest to fully unlock the sector’s capabilities, offering a unified approach to accurately gauge the sustainability of tourism.

“Tourism is a powerful force for positive change when managed responsibly and sustainably,” says Zurab Pololikashvili, UN Tourism Secretary General. “The adoption of the Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism marks a paradigm shift, going beyond GDP by enabling the measurement of what matters most to people and planet.”

This accomplishment marks the culmination of a collaborative seven-year effort under the United Nations, spearheaded by Austria and Spain as co-chairs, and Saudi Arabia and Seychelles serving as co-vice chairs of the UN Tourism Committee on Statistics. The development of the Framework was a monumental task, made possible by the diligent efforts of a diverse Expert Group on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism. This group brought together over 40 countries and more than 30 international and regional entities, including the UN Statistics Division and the International Labour Organization, among others, showcasing an impressive range of stakeholders from subnational entities, academia, and beyond.

Guidance was provided by an Editorial Board, initially led by the Philippines and subsequently by Canada, featuring wide-ranging engagement and input from numerous country pilots.

The Statistical Commission showed robust support for the initiative, with active contributions from 34 countries and various international bodies, signaling a broad consensus on the importance of these efforts.

Looking forward, the Commission has expressed its anticipation for an implementation program that includes both a compilation guide and a call for support from the global donor community to fund the measurement of tourism’s sustainability.

Since its inception in 1947, the UN Statistical Commission, as the preeminent authority for global statistical matters, convenes Chief Statisticians from around the world. It was in 2008 that the Commission last introduced a statistical standard in the tourism sector, underscoring the significance of this new development.

The event held on the sidelines of the United Nations Statistical Commission, jointly organized by Austria, Spain, and the UN Tourism sector, focused on bridging the gap between policy and statistics in measuring tourism’s sustainability. This collaboration emphasized the framework’s critical role in informing policy decisions through evidence, highlighting its broader implications for global statistical systems, data governance, and stewardship.

Countries like Mexico, the Philippines, and Canada shared insights from their forefront experiences in implementing the framework, illustrating the benefits of integrating diverse data to gain comprehensive insights into tourism.

This initiative not only shed light on the Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) but also set the stage for the UN Statistical Commission’s detailed discussions, enhancing the understanding and appreciation of MST’s role in sustainable tourism.

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