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Tourism is NOT the World's Largest Industry - So Stop Saying It Is!

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  • Alan A. Lew
    Tourism is NOT the World s Largest Industry - So Stop Saying It Is! It is
    Message 1 of 4 , May 2, 2008
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      Tourism is NOT the World's Largest Industry - So Stop Saying It Is!

      It is the end of the semester and I am marking term papers. Few things drive me more crazy in doing this than coming across quoted and cited claims that tourism is the world's largest industry. Tourism is NOT the world's largest industry...

      Click Here to see my entire rant on this,
      which includes a discussion of the satellite accounting system.  Any comments or clarification on mistake and misunderstanding that I have made would be appreciated, as I am trying to understand these numbers.

      Cheers
      Alan

      --
      Alan A. Lew , Ph.D., AICP
      Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation,
      Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5016, USA
      * alan.lew {at} nau.edu
      * homepage: <http://AlanLew.com>
      *********************************************
      * Tourism Geographies : An International Journal <www.TGJournal.com>
      * My Blogs and Podcasts <http://alanalew.com>
      * Twitter: <http://twitter.com/alew>
      * Sustainable & Alternative Tourism Conference, July 2009, Guilin/Yangshuo, China <mark your calendar>
      *********************************************
    • Alan A. Lew
      Right. If you include domestic then you need to include the domestic components of all other industries for all countries -- good luck with that! While some
      Message 2 of 4 , May 3, 2008
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        Right.  If you include domestic then you need to include the domestic components of all other industries for all countries -- good luck with that!  While some countries have somewhat reliable estimates of domestic trips and expenditures, many (if not most) do not. Of course you can always guess, or find surrogates numbers and then guess -- which is what consultants tend to do. 

        As noted in my Update further down on my blog, I have been told that the UNWTO guestimates that 84.8% of overnight trips worldwide are domestic, with 15.2% being cross-border.  Informed guestimates can have value if other sources are simply not available.  I just wish they would show how they come up with these numbers. 

        Cheers
        Alan

        On Sat, May 3, 2008 at 10:15 PM, John Fletcher <jefletch@...> wrote:
        Hi Alan

        I know how rattling this opening statement is in essays and dissertations - it has been that way for several years now and it just saddens me that students can't be a bit more imaginative!  BUT...your argument that it is NOT the largest industry seems to be based on international tourism and does not include domestic tourism which in most industrialised countries is many times larger than its international counterpart.  Is it the largest when the domestic component is included?  I will leave that for someone else - maybe one of the students would like to take that on as the opening of their next assignment!

        Best wishes and keep up the rants!

        John


        ________________________________
        From: owner-trinet-l@... [owner-trinet-l@...] On Behalf Of Alan A. Lew [alan.lew@...]
        Sent: 03 May 2008 07:17
        To: Trinet-L; IGU Tourism
        Subject: Tourism is NOT the World's Largest Industry - So Stop Saying It Is!

        Tourism is NOT the World's Largest Industry - So Stop Saying It Is!<http://tourismplace.blogspot.com/2008/04/tourism-is-not-worlds-largest-industry.html>
        It is the end of the semester and I am marking term papers. Few things drive me more crazy in doing this than coming across quoted and cited claims that tourism is the world's largest industry. Tourism is NOT the world's largest industry...

        Click Here to see my entire rant on this<http://tourismplace.blogspot.com/2008/04/tourism-is-not-worlds-largest-industry.html>, which includes a discussion of the satellite accounting system.  Any comments or clarification on mistake and misunderstanding that I have made would be appreciated, as I am trying to understand these numbers.

        Cheers
        Alan

        --
        Alan A. Lew , Ph.D., AICP
        Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation,
        Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5016, USA
        * alan.lew {at} nau.edu<http://nau.edu>
        * homepage: <http://AlanLew.com>
        *********************************************
        * Tourism Geographies : An International Journal <www.TGJournal.com<http://www.TGJournal.com>>
        * My Blogs and Podcasts <http://alanalew.com>
        * Twitter: <http://twitter.com/alew>
        * Sustainable & Alternative Tourism Conference, July 2009, Guilin/Yangshuo, China <mark your calendar>
        *********************************************

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        --
        Alan A. Lew , Ph.D., AICP
        Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation,
        Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5016, USA
        * alan.lew {at} nau.edu
        * homepage: <http://AlanLew.com>
        *********************************************
        * Tourism Geographies : An International Journal <www.TGJournal.com>
        * My Blogs and Podcasts <http://alanalew.com>
        * Twitter: <http://twitter.com/alew>
        * Sustainable & Alternative Tourism Conference, July 2009, Guilin/Yangshuo, China <mark your calendar>
        *********************************************
      • Alan A. Lew
        Well, of course I have my issues with how people use the TSA, as well... The TSA approach provides alternatives to traditional GDP and employment calculations,
        Message 3 of 4 , May 4, 2008
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          Well, of course I have my issues with how people use the TSA, as well...

          The TSA approach provides alternatives to traditional GDP and employment calculations, and which is probably more accurate in estimating the economic role of passenger travel and tourism in an economy.  The best source for understanding how this is done is this publication from the WTTC:

          http://wttc.travel/download.php?file=http://www.wttc.travel/bin/pdf/original_pdf_file/2008_methodology.pdf

          There are a couple of caveats to this approach.  First, while it is based on the best available data, there are holes in that data and assumptions must be made on how to fill those holes.  These assumptions may or may not be valid in reality. 

          Second, the data only looks at travel and tourism.  It does not provide a comprehensive input-output model that compares travel and tourism (however it is defined as a partial industry) to other industries.  Given the fuzzy nature of the partial-industries that the satellite accounting system is designed to address, I am not sure how this could ever been done.  But more importantly, it means that you can not say that travel and tourism is the largest industry, or that it is second or third etc., based on the satellite accounting system.  You can not compare the results of a TSA exercise with the results of GDP exercise based on traditional national accounts.  They are related, but different beasts. 

          What you would need to do is to run a satellite accounting exercise on other industries, some of which may claim large parts of the core of passenger transportation and tourism -- which I think would decrease the totals that people are currently coming up with in the TSAs.  Short of that, you can only say that t+t makes a certain contribution to a certain economy based on certain assumptions.

          A quick review on Google found that Tourism appears to be the only partial-industry that has whole heartedly adopted the satellite accounting approach.  The only other hits that come up are suggestions to use the satellite accounting approach to develop a green accounting model.

          As I said before, please let me know what I am getting wrong here.

          Cheers
          Alan

          --
          Alan A. Lew , Ph.D., AICP
          Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation,
          Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5016, USA
          * alan.lew {at} nau.edu
          * homepage: <http://AlanLew.com>
          *********************************************
          * Tourism Geographies : An International Journal <www.TGJournal.com>
          * My Blogs and Podcasts <http://alanalew.com>
          * Twitter: <http://twitter.com/alew>
          * Sustainable & Alternative Tourism Conference, July 2009, Guilin/Yangshuo, China <mark your calendar>
          *********************************************
        • Alan A. Lew
          I have included some of the posts (mostly without attribution because I did not ask for permissions) on a couple of posts on my blog:
          Message 4 of 4 , May 6, 2008
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            I have included some of the posts (mostly without attribution because I did not ask for permissions) on a couple of posts on my blog: http://tourismplace.blogspot.com (also reposted at: http://net-ctcc.blogspot.com/).  Note that those are both collaborative blogs and anyone who likes to blog about tourism is welcome to  join them.

            I had one more interesting item that came across my inbox.  Below are a sampling of items that are included in the WTTC's calculation of the Global Tourism Satellite Account, collected from the WTTC TSA methodology document. They demonstrate what the sender of this information (who wishes to remain anonymous) called "the WTTC-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink method of estimating the contribution of travel and tourism to the global economy."
            • 100% of boats with motor (though I own a boat and travel each weekend and do not travel outside the 50 mile perimeter, a criterion for being classified a 'traveler.')
            • More than 29% of all towing charges
            • More than 35% of all VCR and video disk players
            • Almost a third (29%) of all vehicle purchases and vehicle insurance
            • More than 38% of all treadmills (sports, recreation and exercise equip)
            From the document: "Because the Federal Railroad Administration runs Amtrak, its entire budget was also counted as 100% Travel & Tourism."
            • ´╗┐US Federal Aviation Administration 89.70%
            • US Federal Highway Administration 22.47%
            • US Federal Railroad Administration 100.00%
            • US National Park Service 100.00%
            • US Fish & Wildlife Service 100.00%
            Cheers
            Alan


            On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 5:37 AM, <abunten@...> wrote:
            Dear Trinetters,
            I have often wondered about this "largest industry" issue and I think that
            this dialogue has been wonderful to follow (thank you for those of you who
            have been contributing).  This discussion is a good exercise in defining
            the perameters of the generalizations that we, as academics and industry
            professionals, often make in our writings about tourism.
            I was wondering if someone out there would be interested in stringing this
            discussion into a Word document for distribution to this list serve?  I
            know that I, for one, will have lots of uses for many of these statistics
            all gathered in one place.
            I would do it myself, but I already deleted half the emails...
            All the best,

            Dr. Alexis Celeste Bunten
            NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
            2008-9 Co-Chair, Tourism Studies Working Group

            > Dear all
            >
            > That bit about greenhouse gases has caused me to put in my
            > three-pennyworth: if only 30% of greenhouse gases are produced by
            > transport, mostly road, that leaves 70% from other industries, power
            > generation, domestic heating, landfill sites, people and animals exhaling
            > CO2 etc... so it cannot be true that "most of the greenhouses gases
            > trapped in the atmosphere are due to the
            > burning of fuel to run airplanes, vehicles and ships".
            >
            > Best wishes
            >
            > Alastair
            >
            > Dr Alastair Forbes
            > Deputy Dean
            > Faculty of Enterprise and Innovation
            > Buckinghamshire New University
            > U.K. Tel. 00 44 (0)1494 603045
            >
            >
            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: owner-trinet-l@... on behalf of Thomas Rourke
            > Sent: Sat 03/05/2008 17:49
            > To: Alan A. Lew
            > Cc: Trinet-L; IGU Tourism
            > Subject: Re: Tourism is NOT the World's Largest Industry - So Stop Saying
            > It Is!
            >
            > Hi all,
            > Found this at:
            >
            > http://news.aol.com/story/_a/global-tourism-industry-struggles-to/n20080430034209990015
            >
            > it's an article concerning the recent Pacific Asia Travel Association
            > meeting.
            >
            > "International travelers numbered 898 million last year and are projected
            > to
            > skyrocket to 1.6 billion in 2020, according to the WTO. With travelers
            > abroad spending more than US$2 billion (1.3 billion) a day, tourism is
            > regarded as one of the world's largest industries. Some sources calculate
            > it
            > as the biggest.""
            >
            > "Based on U.N. World Tourism Organization data, she estimated that
            > international travel will spawn 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, the
            > main
            > greenhouse gas, in 2020 from 506 million tons in 1990 - a 2 billion ton
            > increase the industry would be hard-pressed to offset.
            >
            > Most of the greenhouses gases trapped in the atmosphere are due to the
            > burning of fuel to run airplanes, vehicles and ships."
            >
            > -----------------------
            >
            > It merely points out that tourism is "one of the world's largest
            > industries".  And true, it doesn't mention domestic tourism, which is
            > usually estimated from 85-90% of tourist counts but only estimates
            > economic
            > impacts due to the difficulty of obtaining accurate data.
            >
            > I believe your students are just quoting out-of-date literature ---- pre
            > war-buildup and pre rampant-inflation of oil.
            >
            > Thomas Rourke
            > Clemson, SC
            >
            > ********************************************************************************
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            >





            --
            Alan A. Lew , Ph.D., AICP
            Department of Geography, Planning and Recreation,
            Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5016, USA
            * alan.lew {at} nau.edu
            * homepage: <http://AlanLew.com>
            *********************************************
            * Tourism Geographies : An International Journal <www.TGJournal.com>
            * My Blogs and Podcasts <http://alanalew.com>
            * Twitter: <http://twitter.com/alew>
            * Sustainable & Alternative Tourism Conference, July 2009, Guilin/Yangshuo, China <mark your calendar>
            *********************************************
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