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8.25.                  Ensuring proper governance[1] of the statistical process is critical for successful compilation and dissemination of official tourism statistics owing to the interdisciplinary character of that process. Therefore, establishing a set of agreements on the division of the responsibilities among the institutions involved is absolutely essential. Such agreements are generally referred to by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) as institutional arrangements. In the context of the development of a System of Tourism Statistics, such institutional arrangements have traditionally been referred to by UNWTO as the Inter‑institutional Platform (IIP), which it recommends in its technical assistance and capacity‑building initiatives. 

8.26.                  The success of an IIP depends on the existence of a clear division of responsibilities and a mutually beneficial cooperation among NTAs and NSOs and other entities, which have developed historically in countries and in different ways. Factors leading to the increased importance of cooperation, especially between the NTA and NSO, are: 

(a)            Rising cost consciousness. In this regard, the parties should focus on their respective areas of expertise, making use of existing data and assuring consistency of statistical material; 

(b)            Expiration in many countries of some traditional administrative sources of data such as Entry/Departure cards, which are gradually being replaced by a system of surveys with which NSOs usually have more experience; 

(c)            The fact that a TSA is compiled on the basis of the System of National Accounts, which, in most countries, is the responsibility of the NSO. 

8.27.                  An overarching purpose of the institutional arrangements is to ensure availability of official statistics that meet user needs and are compiled and disseminated in the most efficient way. A lack of harmonization is often referred to as a “stovepiping”. This is where the statistical process is organized along numerous independent and uncoordinated production lines and each statistical output is managed from beginning to end within a separate division or a entity, each with its own concepts and classifications (which may be poorly related to the needs of other fields of statistical work), unique sampling frame, survey design and data compilation system. Stovepiping diminishes the efficiency of statistical processes by making it difficult to develop and use consistent concepts and classifications and sampling frames, and application of the statistics produced in other statistical domains, thus impairing the quality of official statistics in general. Stovepiping is an issue that, unfortunately, many countries face in tourism statistics compilation: the involvement of many organizations with frequently conflicting priorities makes it difficult to agree on the implementation of common concepts, definitions, classifications and data‑collection and data‑compilation procedures. 

8.28.                  As an integral part of the national statistical system, tourism statistics, and the related institutional arrangements, should, ideally, be inserted into and complement the legal framework available for the national statistical system. Experiences in some countries have shown the great benefit of passing a law on tourism statistics detailing a long‑term plan for the development of the System of Tourism Statistics (ideally integrated into the national plan or strategy for the development of statistics), as well as the role and responsibilities of the Inter‑institutional Platform and its constituents. 

8.29.                  In cases of a weak legal basis for collecting and/or compiling data, institutional arrangements are all the more important. Under certain circumstances, the institutional arrangements can be more flexible than legal acts. Experience derived from involvement with such arrangements may actually play an important role in the initiation of the activities aimed at improving the existing legal framework.

8.30.                  The United Nations Statistical Commission systematically promotes an integrated approach to official statistics and sees the establishment of institutional arrangements as a prerequisite for the success of such efforts. Since the adoption of IRTS 2008, the Statistical Commission has endorsed a number of recommendations on institutional arrangements in respect of the organization of the statistical process in general[2]. In the context of specific related statistical domains, the forthcoming Compilers Guide for the Manual on Statistics on International Trade in Services will provide additional guidance on institutional arrangements[3]

8.31.                  The Statistical Commission recognized that it is neither possible nor desirable to promote a single type of institutional arrangements, as national statistical systems are different. Further, this Guide acknowledges that different institutional arrangements may result in adequate tourism statistics, provided that such arrangements promote the compilation of tourism statistics on the basis of internationally recognized methodology and data compilation guidelines, as set out in IRTS 2008. At the same time, it should be noted that the various types of institutional arrangements are not equally effective.

[1] In general, governance is understood as the exercise of the political, economic and administrative authority necessary to manage a nation’s affairs. It refers to the process by which decisions are made and implemented and by which public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. See OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms.

[2] The most important recent United Nations instruments in this connection are the Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics and the national quality assurance framework.

[3] This will be of great relevant to tourism statistics in view of the close links between tourism statistics and statistics of international trade in services.