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Domestic Tourism Study Overview

Difusion date: 
Fri 14 Sep 2012

The domestic tourism study in Asia and the Pacific was initiated in 2011 and will be finalised by UNWTO in 2012. The responses to the call for contributions to the domestic tourism study, based on a detailed set of Terms of Reference (ToR), were received from authors of the following countries: Australia, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The main objectives were outlined as follows:

  1. Compile domestic tourism statistics and analyze characteristics focusing on its socio-economic impact and resilient capacity.
  2. Elucidate information on the accommodation (formal and informal), transport, leisure, and safety and security sectors that have a bearing on domestic tourism.
  3. Provide guidelines for sustainable development of domestic tourism and highlight best practice cases in terms of strategies, policies and product development.
  4. Increase the related stakeholders’ awareness of domestic tourism which plays an important role in socio-economic development and industry’s resilience during global crisis situation.
  5. Serve as a useful groundwork for further studies on domestic tourism in Asia and the Pacific and the rest of the world.

Tourism is an important element in the economy of Asia and Pacific countries. While international tourism has been highlighted due to its capacity for generating foreign exchange as an export earner, something which many destinations direly needed in their formative years of tourism development, domestic tourism was neglected both as an area of development and as a subject of research. Statistics on domestic tourism, vital to any economic analysis, were either unavailable or unreliable since there were no standard measurement systems. International tourism, on the other hand, had the advantage of a system where arrivals and departures were measured at frontier points and expenditure was in foreign currency. This situation changed dramatically with the introduction of Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA), an initiative of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that has greatly revolutionized accounting procedures, systems and analysis. Many countries, especially the developed nations, adopted TSAs at their inception in the 1990s, whereas the initiative permeated Asia and the Pacific much later and with varying degrees of success, depending on the strength of the accounting systems of the destinations under review.

The present study of domestic tourism across Asia and the Pacific draws heavily on TSAs which, while still not completely uniform nor foolproof, nevertheless give a realistic picture of domestic tourism of the countries. The TSAs by themselves are not viable without the supportive data of domestic travelers provided through household surveys conducted by National Tourism Administrations and Organizations (NTAs & NTOs). Surveys have not been implemented in all of the countries under review and one of the outcomes of this study was for requests for assistance in the implementation of household and administrative surveys. As far as the surveys are concerned, a major hurdle has been the lack of uniformity in the questionnaires to give clear-cut universal definitions. This has led to a question of comparability of the statistics on domestic tourism. For example international tourists are measured on the basis that they spend at least one night in the destination but data provided by some of the countries on domestic tourism include same day trips which inflate the numbers. This is tantamount to mixing tourists and excursionists in the statistical data of arrivals.