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Seychelles exposed to best practices in Tourism Satellite Account Development

Seychelles exposed to best practices in Tourism Satellite Account Development

The Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Anne Lafortune, led the Seychelles delegation to the 6th International Conference on Tourism Statistics held in Manila, Philippines at the end of June.

The conference organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), was themed “Measuring Sustainable Tourism,” in line with the UN’s declaration of the year 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development.

The meeting gathered ministers, statistical chiefs, policy experts and statisticians dedicated to sustainable tourism. In the case of Seychelles, PS Lafortune was accompanied by Mrs. Bernice Senaratne, the Director for Policy, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms. Sheena Saldahna a statistician from the National Bureau of Statistics and Ms. Kathleen Nicette, also a statistician from the Central Bank of Seychelles.

The presentation of the first draft of a new statistical framework for tourism – one that integrates the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable tourism, at both national and subnational level, was a main component of the event.

This forms part of a project titled “Towards a Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism”initiated by the UNWTO with the support of the UN Statistics Division. The aim is to develop an international statistical framework that supports the measurement of sustainable tourism, providing a common language and organizing structure to exploit the richness of data already available, as well as identify additional data that may be needed.

This involves the bridging of the economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable tourism through two existing UN statistical standards: the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) and the System of Economic Environment Accounting (SEEA).

The Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) is a standard statistical framework and the main tool for the economic measurement of tourism.

The conference therefore provided the appropriate platform for Seychelles to learn best practices from member states who have already implemented their own Tourism Satellite Account, as the country is currently at the initial stages of developing a similar tool to ensure that the economic aspect of island nation’s tourism activities is measured accordingly.

PS Lafortune said: “Furthermore, as a small island nation with the natural environment being a key component on the success of tourism, the Measuring Sustainable Framework will build on and complement our Tourism Satellite Account project thereby allowing us to appropriately identify and measure tourism from all angles including the environment and social impact.”

Mrs. Lafortune also represented Seychelles at the Ministerial Roundtable where high level officials discussed the opportunities and challenges that sustainable tourism brings to their respective countries and how the use of more integrated data is supporting them in paving the way towards a more sustainable future.

In her deliberation, she explained that Seychelles as a Small Island Developing State is dependent on the natural environment as a unique selling point for tourism and the need to ensure that the right balance is achieved between infrastructure development and environment protection. Mrs. Lafortune also discussed the current challenges Seychelles is facing in terms of financial and human capacity, and the limited talent pool surrounding the measurement of sustainable tourism thereby building on and complementing the Tourism Satellite Account project.

In his official message at the conference, the current Secretary General of the UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai said tourism can in fact be a force for sustainable development and that in order to ensure that we are going in the in the right direction.

“We need an accurate assessment of the impacts of tourism on our economic, social and environmental sustainability. This will only be obtained through statistical measurement,” he said.

The note that statistical tourism is viewed as increasingly relevant in national agendas for its role in fostering economic growth, social inclusiveness and the protection of its cultural assets.

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