Economic role of meetings industry to be recognised

A major new industry report, commissioned by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), ICCA, Meeting ProfessionaIs International and Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) strongly recommends adopting a form of Tourism Satellite Accounting to measure the economic global importance of the meetings industry.

The proposals already have the backing of leading association councils and are set to take the meetings industry into a new era of official recognition, international prestige and general acceptance as a mainstream fiscal driver.
The report, ‘Measuring the Economic Importance of the Meetings Industry, Developing a Tourism Satellite Account Extension’ is the fruition of three years of work by the four partners. The report was written in association with the Sustainable Tourism CRC at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.
However, the partners warn the proposals will not be implemented without overwhelming support and political goodwill worldwide. It can only be achieved with the modification of the existing Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) and the co-operation of governments and government agencies to collect industry data in an agreed standard method that meets strict international statistical requirements.
Antonio Massieu, head of the UNWTO Department of Statistics and Economic Measurement of Tourism and coordinator of the Department's team of consultants, said: “Measuring the activity of holding meeting industry events at national and sub-national levels is of interest to tourism, because attending meetings, conferences and conventions is a purpose of visit of tourists.”
The activities are now recognized in the United Nations classifications of activities and products (ISIC and CPC, respectively).
“Official recognition by the UN early this year implies an increasing interest in focusing on the macroeconomic contribution of the meetings industry both from international and national organizations: UNWTO is specially interested in the tourism connection. We [now] need to isolate and bring together revenues and costs associated with holding meetings and all the expenditures of tourists whose purpose of travel is to attend meetings, conferences and conventions.”
Among the 77-page report’s recommendations is a call for the industry to use the same universal definitions. This includes:

• Using ‘The Meetings Industry’ as a general descriptive term for the industry
• Adopting the general aim to motivate participants to conduct business, share ideas, learn, network and discuss
• Assessing a meeting as having a minimum number of ten participants (a practice already widely used by meetings organisations)
• Agreeing that a meetings venue includes payment and involves a half day ( four hours) or more.