Measuring travel services in West Africa focus of Madrid meeting

02 November 2018

UNCTAD meets with the UN World Tourism Organization in Madrid to discuss the measurement of travel services in West African Monetary Union countries.

UNCTAD statistical experts met with tourism and travel specialists from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to discuss the travel element of trade-in-services in West African Monetary Union countries during the Second Meeting of the Working Group on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism in Madrid, Spain, on 24–25 October.

Nour Barnat and Anton Sudzik from UNCTAD discussed the most appropriate statistical methodology to measure travel services as part of a broader project on the measurement of trade-in-services being undertaken by UNCTAD and the Statistical Commission of the Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA / West African Economic and Monetary Union).

Tourism in West Africa

UEMOA members are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

Ms. Barnat highlighted work done by UNCTAD’s statistics branch on two key targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, based on its Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures report:

She also outlined an ongoing UNCTAD project to improve the collection, compilation and dissemination of trade-in-services statistics in the UEMOA countries in line with the system and classifications of the sixth edition of International Monetary Fund’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6).

“Travel services pose a particular set of challenges,” Ms. Barnat said.

“That’s because unlike most services transactions, which can be measured using enterprise surveys, international travel can only really be measured at national borders,” she said.

She proposed that UNCTAD collaborate with UNWTO to implement a joint questionnaire on travel that addresses the needs of trade-in-services and Measuring Sustainability in Tourism initiative.

The collaboration offers an opportunity to not only collect harmonized data across the eight UEMOA countries – and perhaps other regions in the future – but to also harmonize or align data collection for both sustainable tourism and the travel part of trade-in-services.

The proposal was discussed with UNWTO statistics director John Kester, Elcia Grandcourt and Jaime Mayaki of the UNWTO Regional Department for Africa, Vanessa Satur of UNWTO Technical Cooperation, and Peter Laimer of Statistics Austria, president of the Working Group on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism.