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April 16, 2008

Finland joins meetings initiative pilot scheme

Finland has joined the six original selected countries participating in the global meetings initiative to help establish a framework for measuring the economic importance of the meetings industry worldwide.

Australia, Austria, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Spain – and now Finland – will be working with international economist Santiago Guerreiro and the steering group to extend the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) and include the meetings industry.

The work is being funded by the UNWTO, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) and EIBTM.

Tuula Lindberg, managing director of the Finland Convention Bureau, who as past president of ICCA was involved in the early work of the steering group, said: ”Finland has long felt that there should be greater harmonised measurement of the meetings industry to ensure that we gain greater credibility and recognition at government level.

"We are delighted to be involved in this initial pilot scheme and will do everything possible to ensure that this is successful."

Preliminary discussions with the chosen pilot countries have been taking place since December and official approaches have now been made to the relevant Ministers of Tourism or equivalent by Francesco Frangialli, UNWTO secretary-general, on behalf of the steering group to the relevant.

“After further examination of these countries, we are satisfied that the availability and quality of basic statistical sources can play a key role in the implementation of the TSA Extension” said Santiago Guerreiro. “All these countries have already carried out extremely useful work in the development of the TSA and we look forward to working with them this year.”

A revision of the TSA (TSA 2008) is due to be approved by the 39th United Nations Statistical Commission this month, including, for the first time, a specific section on the meetings industry. It recommends that countries advance in the development of methodologies to better evaluate the industry.

The document also refers to the report commissioned by the steering group and launched two years ago: ‘Measuring the Economic Importance of the Meetings Industry. Developing a Tourism Satellite Account Extension’, written in association with the Sustainable Tourism CRC at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

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