Economic impact system launching April´09

The Global Meetings Measurement Initiative – the economic measuring tool being produced by an umbrella of industry organisations – has had a deadline of April 2009 set for its initial unveiling. Speaking at yesterday´s opening seminar at Barcelona show EIBTM, MPI vice president of global development Didier Scaillet confirmed that the methodology currently being created by the steering group – which as well as MPI includes the UNWTO, Reed Travel Exhibitions and ICCA – is “16 months from completion”. The idea of the initiative is to provide an accurate account of the economic value of the meetings industry on a country-by-country basis. The group hopes to emulate the work achieved by the World Travel and Tourism Council in the consumer sector, with its Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) system, adopted in 2001 by the United Nations Statistical Commission. The meetings version of the concept was initially conceived around five years ago, with work starting on it in 2004. This year saw former UN economist Santiago Guerreiro appointed to the steering group, with a remit including helping drive international pilot studies. These are currently taking place in Australia, Austria, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Spain and kicked off in September. From these, the idea is for a verifiable methodology which can be applied in different territories. Scaillet said that 40 countries have the right satellite accounting infrastructure in place to adopt the system and promised an update on the pilot schemes at a conference ahead of next year´s EIBTM. Reed Travel Exhibitions chairman Tom Nutley added that it was vital the meetings industry could provide a thorough and quantifiable record of its economic impact: “Ten to fifteen years ago, travel and tourism was similarly fractured to the meetings market and so set up TSA based around government statistics. It took a long time to put in place and get international governments to accept the mehodology, but it can now prove its impact on GDP and employment and is now taken very seriously indeed.”

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