MADRID -- As tourism has become a powerful engine for the local, economic and social development of cities, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has partnered with the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) to develop an instrument that can measure the performance of the sector in metropolitan areas.

Under the title 'UNWTO-WTCF City Tourism Performance Research,' the project will include a set of criteria and a platform for information exchange to showcase good practices on "tourism performance" in several urban destinations.

According to UN Habitat, by 2050, 70 percent of the world's population is expected to be living in cities. By 2025, metropolitan areas will contribute more than US$30 trillion annually to the world economy. As tourism forms a central component in the economic, social and geographical development of cities, it is essential to monitor the tourism performance in urban destinations and address the areas that need improvement.

"City tourism should go hand in hand with sustainable development, while preserving the environmental treasures, together with tangible and intangible heritage, should be parallel to the importance of engaging local communities," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

The partnership between UNWTO and WTCF to measure city tourism will assist policy makers and all stakeholders in their efforts to take strategic action for better urban tourism governance and sustainable management.

The project includes research on city tourism performance and collecting information about the existing systems to measure city tourism performance worldwide. A total of 16 cities located in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin American participated in the survey. The exercise will allow officials to define a set of criteria that can constitute the best possible assessment of city tourism performance at a reasonable cost.

"Cities provide an important vehicle for world tourism development. Launched in 2015, the UNWTO-WTCF City Tourism Performance Research Programme has conducted a comprehensive analysis of 16 tourism cities in the world in five areas: Destination management, economic perspective, social and cultural perspectives, environmental perspective, as well as technology and new business models. The findings offer very useful guidance to promote sustainable development in cities around the world," said the Secretary-General of WTCF, Song Yu.

The 16 different city cases will be compiled in a publication free of charge on the UNWTO website, which will serve as a guideline on how cities can improve their future implementation of tourism development.

Source: Emirates News Agency