LUSA 07/10/2024

Lusa - Business News - Sao Tome: UN supports better tourist data collection

Sao Tome, July 9, 2024 (Lusa) - The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is supporting Sao Tome and Príncipe in improving the collection and processing of tourism data to boost the sector's development, official sources announced on Tuesday. The information was provided by the United Nations resident coordinator in Sao Tome and Príncipe, Eric Overvest, at the opening of a "seminar on the potential of the tourism sector in the country and the critical need for quality data to boost its development".

According to the United Nations (UN) representative, the two-day event is the result of a request from the local government through the Ministry of Economy "to develop technical capacity in the collection and analysis of tourism data".

"This is a crucial first step to enable Sao Tome and Príncipe to establish its national tourism satellite account, which will provide a clear picture of the direct and indirect impacts of the tourism sector on the economy, promote better sectoral planning and improve the impact of tourism on the national socio-economic fabric," said the UN representative.

Eric Overvest emphasised that "accurate, timely and comprehensive statistical data is essential for designing effective policies and strategies to support tourism development".

"Tourism represents a promising path for Sao Tome and Príncipe to diversify its economy, create jobs and achieve more inclusive and sustainable development. However, realising this potential will require overcoming significant challenges and investing in the collection of high quality tourism data to guide the formulation of evidence-based policies," said the UN representative.

Eric Overvest pointed out that despite "a very timid base", international tourist arrivals grew consistently from 2010 to 2019, reaching a peak of almost 36,000 visitors in 2023 and in 2019, "tourism provided employment for around 14% of the labour force" in the country.

The archipelago, he said, "has an excellent opportunity to expand significantly as an ecotourism hotspot", taking into account "the incredible natural, historical and cultural resources", namely "its opportunity for marine and coastal tourism" which remain "largely unexplored".

He also highlighted the island of Príncipe as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the country's rich biodiversity and captivating landscapes, combined with its strategic location that "make it a promising ecotourism destination".

"In addition, its commitment to peace, democracy and security in a region facing increasing political instability is a unique selling point for attracting visitors. Its small size also presents an advantage, as strategic investments in tourism can quickly and significantly boost the economic outlook of the entire country," added the UN representative in the archipelago.

The economy minister, Disney dos Ramos, emphasised the need for "accurate and up-to-date statistical data" and announced that the government wants to create an "integrated national tourism statistics system" with the involvement of various institutions.

"The tourism sector has the potential to attract investment, foster the growth of local businesses, generate employment and contribute to increasing national revenues," said Ramos.

The economy minister said that "the government has chosen tourism as one of the fundamental pillars for the country's economic and social development" and emphasised that this sector "already plays an important role" in the economy, "contributing significantly" to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) "and being one of the main sources of foreign currency".