Official Messages

Mr. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General

Dear friends,

On behalf of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), I am very privileged and grateful to invite you to join us at the 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics, an official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, 2017.

The decision by the United Nations General Assembly to dedicate 2017 to tourism’s contribution to sustainable and inclusive growth was no coincidence. Tourism is increasingly and rightly being recognized as a sector that can help usher in a better world.
In 2016 more than 1.2 billion people crossed borders for tourism purposes in a single year. This means one in every six people of the world is making an international trip, benefiting economies and societies globally.

However, with such exponential growth comes increased responsibility. We have to solve a fundamental equation: how can we secure the sustainable growth of our sector without compromising the natural and cultural resources of our planet?

Tourism can in fact be a force for sustainable development. It is expressly mentioned in three of the 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon by world leaders to guide our common action to 2030. Yet with its global reach, resilience and large value chain, tourism can contribute to all 17 SDGs.

In order to be sure we are going in the right direction, we need an accurate assessment of the impacts of tourism on our economic, social and environmental sustainability. This will only be obtained through statistical measurement. Furthermore, the United Nations is devoted to designing indicators for the SDGs and its General Assembly has called for this effort to be statistically based.

Current tourism measurement standards are mostly economic. This is why UNWTO has launched, with the support of the United Nations Statistics Division, the initiative Towards a Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST). This framework will support the measurement of sustainable tourism in its economic, environmental and social dimensions and across global, national and subnational levels.

We hope to see MST becoming a high priority on national and global agendas, following the overwhelming appreciation expressed to the work on the initiative at the 48th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission on 7-10 March 2017.

The 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics, to be held in June in Manila, Philippines, will showcase the first draft of the MST framework and bring together for the first time the global tourism and environment communities to discuss how to measure sustainable tourism.

I invite you all to join us at this landmark event to further explore this fundamental topic and to shape MST, which will streamline tourism in a new era of sustainable and inclusive development.

H.E. Mrs. Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo, Secretary, Department of Tourism, Philippines


In consonance with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and on behalf of the Philippine Government, I am honored to welcome you to the 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics in Manila, Philippines.

As one of the fastest growing economic sectors today, tourism has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. Todate, more and more people travel more than ever. Its rapid growth not only benefits those who work in the industry, it also presents opportunities for local communities within and around tourist destinations. As we know, tourism cuts across different sectors of the economy and it inevitably contributes to its overall development. As Tourism Ministers, it is our primordial duty to ensure that such benefits are equitably shared by everyone. Tourism Ministers are responsiblein transforming tourism into a vital engine for economic progress while maintaining a healthy environment and promoting social and cultural awareness.

Barely a year as Tourism Minister, I am privileged to have been able to see the natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture of my country on a grander scale. Such privilege has also challenged me to take a step back to see the bigger picture – that with the growing number of tourists comes a call for action. We are faced with the arduous task of conserving and protecting our country’s cultural, historical, and natural resources. In order for us to sustain the growth and reap the benefits, we must analyze and measure the impacts of tourism. Sustainable tourism is increasingly becoming relevant in the international agenda for its role in fostering economic growth, social inclusiveness, and the protection of natural and cultural assets. With support from the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the UN World Tourism Organization has launched the Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) initiative. The MST Framework harmonizes the economic, environmental, and social measurement standards and dissect the available data from various spatial levels.

Cognizant of the growing importance of Sustainable Tourism, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Philippine Department of Tourism has joined to organize the sixth edition of the UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics.

With the theme Measuring Sustainable Tourism, the Conference seeks to discuss the formulation of monitoring tools to assess the targets in Goal 8, Goal 12, and Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals wherein tourism is featured. One of the pivotal objectives of the Conference is to gather politicians and other policymakers in tourism, environment, and statistics and inform them about the new developments in the measurement of sustainable tourism, thereby encouraging them to adopt policies that will promote greater appreciation and utilization of tourism statistics.

I encourage everyone to join us in this landmark occasion that is pivotal in shaping the MST initiative. The 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics will pave the way for the development of tourism that is economically beneficial, environmentally friendly, socially equitable, and culturally responsive.

Dr. Taleb Rifai and I look forward to seeing you in Manila.