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All 193 UN Member States have adopted a groundbreaking statistical framework for sustainable tourism.

The Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (SF-MST) has been developed under the leadership of the UN World Tourism Organization. This framework has been seven years in the making and will now be the agreed reference for measuring the economic, social and environmental aspects of tourism.

The adoption of the SF-MST by the UN Statistical Commission at its 55th session (27 February – 1 March 2024) marks a historical milestone towards harnessing the full potential of the sector, providing a solution to the pressing need for a harmonised methodology to effectively assess the sustainability of tourism around the world.

Zurab Pololikashvili, UN WTO Secretary General, said:

“Tourism is a powerful force for positive change when managed responsibly and sustainably.

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.”

IDEEA Group Director, Carl Obst, said:

“This is a fantastic result after seven years of hard work. Congratulations to the many experts and supporters from around the world who have provided ongoing input and enthusiasm for this ambitious and unique project.

IDEEA Group are honoured to have been part of developing the SF-MST. We are particularly pleased about the way that the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) has been embedded in the approach and the integrated coverage of economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability.

And we’re excited to see the SF-MST support more real-world applications that go beyond GDP.

We congratulate the Member States and the leadership of the UNWTO on this momentous achievement.”

Global collaboration led to success

The framework came about through enormous collaborative effort. Austria and Spain led the seven-year process as co-chairs of the UN WTO Committee on Statistics, with Saudi Arabia and Seychelles the co-vice chairs.

The Committee managed the Expert Group on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism, which was composed of 40+ countries and 30+ international and regional organizations including the UN Statistics Division, the International Labour Organization (ILO), subnational authorities and observatories, academia and organisations like IDEEA Group, with Director Carl Obst being the lead author and editor of SF-MST.

IDEEA Group looks forward to being part of the rollout of this important framework in the years to come, helping to implement sustainable tourism wherever possible.