UNWTO calls for universal standards

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has called for global agreement on how to measure the financial impact of meetings, leading to better recognition of the industry’s economic contribution. As the group launched its report, Measuring the Economic Importance of the Meetings Industry, at this year’s EIBTM, it warned that while its research had created a platform for a universal measurement system, it could not be implemented without “overwhelming support [from the industry] and political goodwill worldwide”. Antonio Massieu, head of the UNWTO department of statistics (tourism), said that in order for figures to be comparable, the meetings industry needed its own place in the UN classifications of activities, and also an agreement to determine what services are provided and how they should be measured. “We need to isolate all the expenditure of people whose purpose of travel is to attend meetings conferences and conventions,” he said. The report is the result of a three-year project in conjunction with industry bodies such as ICCA and MPI and makes a raft of recommendations for a global measurement system. These include making “the meetings industry” the universal term for the sector, and seeking agreement on a standard for the duration of meetings and number of attendees to qualify for measurement. Looking ahead, UNWTO has set its sights on bringing national associations on board and has called for individual territories to lobby their governments. The full report can be downloaded from the EIBTM, ICCA and MPI websites.

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