Performance of OECD tourism policies


This activity aims to promote the compatibility and mutual reinforcement of tourism policies in a broader policy framework and to help Member countries to improve performance and international competitiveness while promoting balanced development of the industry.

Since 1982, the OECD has regularly reviewed national policy on tourism in order to deepen mutual understanding of current tourism policy issues, identify gaps, shortcomings and successes in national tourism policies, and evaluate the economic, social and environmental impacts of those policies. This work provides valuable information on tourism policy and reveals significant changes, such as the development of partnerships with the private sector, the increasing integration of environmental concerns in the formulation of tourism policy, the important part played by local or regional authorities in the development of tourism policy and the major role in determining policy direction played by the new macroeconomic indicators for tourism, as presented in the UN-WTO-OECD-EUROSTAT Tourism Satellite Accounts: Recommended Methodological Framework and in the OECD Guidelines for a Tourism Satellite Account. The framework for policy examination has been progressively strengthened.

To permit more in-depth examination of developments in tourism policy, the OECD organises regular conferences or roundtables on key features of general concern that contribute to reinventing the role of governments in tourism. Among these horizontal issues are:

  • Economic and political factors affecting growth in tourism (e.g. the OECD Seminar on Economic Policy and Economic Growth, Berlin, 6-7 March 2001 ), such as economic growth and tourism policies, measurement and assessment of the role and performance of tourism, sustainable development, innovation, information and communication technologies, trade and investment, corporate governance and financial issues.

  • The changing role of the public sector. This concerns the increasing role played by local/regional authorities in the design and implementation of tourism policies (e.g. a roundtable on regional policy and tourism held in Paris in 1999. Participants, which included the OECD's Territorial Development Service, examined the situation prevailing in Member countries and discussed a number of concrete examples/case studies.

  • Developments in information technology (e.g. the OECD Conference, " A New Era in Information Technology: Its Implications for Tourism Policies ", Seoul, 1998), such as new travel distribution channels, destination information and management systems, impact of electronic commerce on tourists and businesses and destination marketing over the Internet.

  • Changes in government tourism policies (e.g. the OECD Conference, " Future Challenges in Tourism Policies ", Mexico City, 1996), such as institutional frameworks (e.g. national tourism administrations, national tourism organisations), formulation of policies, definition of objectives, measures to im91e the functioning of the market, co-operation with the private sector (e.g. the OECD Conference, " Partnerships in tourism: a tool for job creation ", Rome, 1997), international co-operation and efforts to measure accurately the economic importance of tourism.

  • Contribution of tourism to employment , highlighting its economic importance to OECD Member countries, examination of the sector's employment potential, and identification of suitable policy initiatives for maximising the industry's contribution to reducing unemployment (Proceedings of the seminar on perspectives and challenges of employment in the tourism industry, 1995). [This document is available on request from the Secretariat].

  • Contribution of tourism to the sustainable development of rural areas .

In addition to country policy reviews and examination of horizontal issues, the OECD continues limited work on liberalisation of international tourism services. The OECD Trade Directorate also pursues some work in this area.

The integration of environmental concerns in sectoral policies, including for tourism, is an important aspect of the OECD strategy for sustainable development, which involves horizontal co-operation within the OECD (e.g. Environmental performance review of Austria, 1995; Turkey, 1999; Greece, 2000; and Portugal, forthcoming).

Most OECD economies continue to play an active role in promoting the image of the country. On several occasions, the OECD examined the rationale for state promotion of tourism. In 1999, it examined ways to improve the market orientation of national tourism organisations .

In parallel, the OECD intends to make use of its policy work and experience to engage a dialogue with non-member economies that play a major role in international tourism. Selected non-OECD economies are regularly associated with the work undertaken by the Committee.