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It is widely recognised that tourism can have both positive and negative effects on local environments and communities. The rebound in tourism activity since the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of these effects and placed greater levels of scrutiny on finding broader and more standardised approaches to measurement than simply visitor numbers or tourism expenditure.

IDEEA Group have been actively involved in a range of tourism measurement projects over recent years and important progress is being secured in recent months.

Global progress toward sustainable tourism

Most recently, at the 4th UN World Tourism Organization Expert Group on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST), a near final version of the Statistical Framework for MST was endorsed for global consultation. That consultation process is currently underway and is due to finish in mid-November 2023.

A version of the framework will be finalised for submission to the United Nations Statistical Commission meeting in February 2024. IDEEA Group Director, Carl Obst, is the lead author and editor of the Statistical Framework which covers the economic, environmental and social dimensions of tourism.

As a part of the wider MST project, IDEEA Group have been working with UNWTO and Oxford University’s SDG Impact Lab to advance the development of a harmonised ESG Framework for Tourism Businesses. This will take advantage of the statistical concepts and definitions of the SF-MST and apply them to the measurement of environmental, social and governance issues for all tourism businesses. A first round of pilot studies has been undertaken and the framework drafting is underway led by IDEEA Group Senior Economist, Dan Whitaker.

This set of slides from the presentation at the UNWTO Expert Group meeting is a helpful summary of that project.

Sustainable tourism in the Pacific

Closer to home, IDEEA Group have been working with the Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) to establish a core set of indicators for assessing the sustainability of tourism across the region. These are known as the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Indicators (PSTI). We have also been working more directly with Kiribati to tailor the regional indicators to their national context. IDEEA Group Associate, Mark Lound, has been leading on these projects.

We are also finding that discussion on the measurement of tourism continues to emerge in our work on ecosystem and ocean accounting. The ongoing reality of the connection between people and the environment is something we are always keen to recognise and record to support decision making.

If you’d like to discuss how we can assist you in the measurement of tourism and its sustainability please get in touch.