UN Tourism and WTCF Develop Sustainable Vision for Tourism Cities

In a world where cities are becoming major tourist hubs, UN Tourism and the World Tourism Towns Federation (WTCF) have taken the initiative to rethink the approach to urban tourism. Their new report, published to coincide with ITB Berlin 2024, highlights the urgent need to measure the social and environmental impact of tourism on urban destinations. The initiative aims to create a global database on urban tourism, enabling a better understanding and comparative assessment of its size and value, on a global and regional scale.


A Critical Need for Quality Data

The report reveals a significant gap in the collection and communication of tourism data, covering 22 destinations across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. It highlights the importance of measuring impacts beyond economic factors, by integrating the socio-cultural and environmental dimensions of urban tourism. The potential use of megadata to measure urban tourism is also explored, despite the major challenges, with the aim of strengthening the essential components of an intelligent destination, such as technology and governance.


Towards a World Database on Urban Tourism

Under the leadership of UN Tourism, with the support of the UN Statistics Division, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other stakeholders, work is underway to develop the Statistical Framework for Measuring Tourism Sustainability (SF-MST). This framework aims to develop a common approach to obtaining harmonised data at national and sub-national levels, which will support the analysis of tourism activity and its sustainability at all scales.

The UN Tourism International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories plays a crucial role in helping destinations to monitor and assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of tourism. The aim is to promote sustainable tourism practices locally and globally.


A commitment to a sustainable future

This report marks an important step towards understanding and managing urban tourism from a sustainability perspective. By emphasising the need for more and better data, UN Tourism and the WTCF are laying the foundations for a more informed and responsible approach to urban tourism. The initiative aims not only to improve the competitiveness of urban destinations, but also to ensure that tourism development takes place in a way that respects local communities and the environment.

The approach proposed by UN Tourism and the WTCF for data-driven urban tourism is an invitation to all stakeholders in the sector to work together towards a future where tourism makes a positive contribution to the sustainable development of cities around the world.


Download the report: Quantifying tourism in urban destinations – Towards a better understanding of urban tourism



Photo: UN Tourism


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