1. Introduction

This guidance note is produced as part of a series by the Tourism Intelligence Unit (TIU) at ONS with the aim of providing a consistent framework within which to measure and collect data on various facets of tourism activity. The guidance notes produced to date are:

This is the second version of Guidance Note 1 and the aim of this update, and the updates for all the other notes in the series, is twofold:

1.To incorporate developments, or changes, in the definitions and concepts that underpin the series of guidance notes and to have regard to current usage of terms by all concerned in the UK with tourism defined as the activities of visitors.

2.To add more practical guidance relating to the various topics that might include examples of best practice in the UK and elsewhere and worked examples where the guidance refers to particular measurement techniques.

The reason for developing this series of guidance notes has always been to try and develop a more consistent framework for the measurement of the tourism sector of the economy at all spatial scales in the UK.

The achievement of this consistent framework is determined to some extent by an understanding of the concepts and definitions of tourism and how these are understood internationally, nationally in the UK, regionally and at local levels. Setting out this conceptual framework is a particular aim of this guidance note.

The concepts and definitions relating to tourism are used at a national level within ONS and find their way into definitions and classifications used in the national accounts and balance of payments, international trade in services, and household and migration statistics.

It is important, therefore, that these standards are adopted more widely at the subnational level to promote a cohesive approach to the measurement of tourism. It is very important that this conceptual framework is adopted by users when undertaking data collection or analysis on tourism, particularly at the local level.

ONS, through the work of the TIU has referred to, and used, the concepts and definitions highlighted in this guidance in the development of its outputs.

It is recommended that data collection and measurement of the various aspects of tourism highlighted in this series should also be based on the same conceptual underpinning in order to achieve a consistent approach to the analysis of tourism in the UK.

In this sense, the guidance seeks to develop a “bottom-up” approach to data collection across the various aspects of tourism that the guidance covers. Adopting this approach would ensure more comparability across areas that will be useful for planning purposes.

It would also make feasible a more uniform approach to the analysis of the local economic impact of tourism if local authorities are collecting tourism data following this consistent framework.

The framework that we have adopted is based on the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s system of tourism statistics (STS), the components of which are outlined in Table 1.

Throughout this guidance, we make reference to the International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics (IRTS, 2008) from UNWTO, Eurostat and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is the most authoritative source of information on defining and measuring tourism.

We also make reference to the Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework (TSA: RMF, 2008) also from UNWTO, Eurostat and OECD.

Table 1: Components of a system of tourism statistics (UNWTO, 2010)

Concepts Observation Units Main Related Characteristics
Visitor Visitor {
Travel Party
Classes (Overnight visitor-tourist-/same-day visitor-excursionist)
Country of residence/regions

Trip Tourism Trip (or visit) Main purpose
Main destination
Modes of transport
Types of accommodation used

Tourism industries (business enterprises or units) Establishments Monetary
-Intermediate consumption
-Gross value added
-Compensation of employees
-Gross Fixed Capital Formation Non Monetary
-Non-monetary characteristics specific to each tourism industry

Employment Establishment (in the tourism industries) Households
Status in employment
Duration of work
Full-time equivalent jobs

Within this framework it is clear that we can distinguish between a demand side of tourism defined by the visitors who take tourism trips and the characteristics of those trips, and a supply side which details the characteristics of those industries that provide goods and services to visitors (including the characteristics of employment in those industries).

We highlight the definitions of both the demand and supply sides of tourism in this guidance.

1.1 English Tourism Research and Intelligence Partnership (ETRIP) work on definitions and concepts

Before describing the demand- and supply-side definitions of tourism, we highlight here specific work undertaken by ETRIP – formerly the English Tourism Intelligence Partnership– who undertook a study of tourism terms and definitions in the autumn of 2011.

This piece of work was instigated by Professor Victor Middleton and led by David James (Global Tourism Solutions UK) working with a group of experts from various organisations, public and private, from within the UK tourism sector.

In this version of the guidance note, we highlight the work undertaken in defining various tourism terms from the UK perspective and include these alongside current international recommendations on the definition and measurement of tourism.

In Appendix 1 we include a tabular summary of the definitions compiled by this ETRIP working group. This is organised around the following themes:

  1. Generic terms

  2. Visitors

  3. Measurement specifics/requirements

  4. Destination-related

  5. Responsible/wise/sustainable tourism

Where relevant, we also include elements of the short report produced by the ETRIP working group in the body of this report, and we reference this as “ETRIP tourism terms paper, 2011”.

Some of the terms referred to in this work sit outside current international recommendations on tourism statistics and, therefore, are less well defined in many cases.

However, as some of these terms are being widely used by tourism professionals in the UK, it is a useful exercise to propose an appropriate definition of them grounded on the UNWTO overall definition of tourism. This aids in identifying overlaps with existing international definitions of tourism, which are the main focus of this guidance, and where there are differences.

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2. Demand-side definitions

We start with some basic concepts and terms that any working in the tourism sector will be familiar with but, nevertheless, are worthy of further explanation.

“Tourism is defined by the activities of persons identified as visitors. A visitor is someone who is making a visit to a main destination outside his/her usual environment for less than a year for any main purpose [including] holidays, leisure and recreation, business, health, education or other purposes… This scope is much wider than the traditional perception of tourists, which includes only those travelling for leisure.”

“As a demand-side phenomenon, the economic contribution of tourism has to be approached from the activities of visitors… However, it can also be viewed from the supply side… as a set of… activities that cater mainly to visitors…”.

(Extracts from the International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics 2008 (IRTS, 2008), paras 1.9, 1.9, 1.12 and 2.9)

If a resident is travelling within their own country, then we would refer to this as domestic travel, whereas travel to a country by people who live outside of that country is called inbound travel, and travel to another country by UK residents, for example, is called outbound travel.

A trip (or visit) is a round trip and is the time of departure from a person’s usual residence until they return. The trip is made up of visits to different places.

An inbound trip includes travel between arriving in a country and leaving, while domestic or outbound trips include travel between leaving the place of residence and returning.

Domestic in this instance incorporates the main destination inside the traveller’s place of residence, while an outbound trip has the main destination outside the area of residence.

2.1 The usual environment

IRTS 2008 from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines the usual environment as “the geographical area within which an individual conducts his/her regular life routines”.

The UNWTO suggests a number of criteria to determine what the usual environment is, except that it should be based on the following criteria:

  • frequency of the trip (regular everyday trips would be excluded)

  • duration of the trip (usually taken to be of more than 3 hours when considering excursionists)

  • the crossing of administrative or national borders (this could present problems if an individual lives close to an administrative border, for example, a local authority)

  • distance from the place of usual residence (there is no particular guidance on this issue and to some extent it is country- and locality-specific)

In addition to using the frequency and duration criteria to determine the usual environment, it is recommended that in practice the crossing of administrative borders be combined with the distance criterion to establish the limits of the usual environment for the following reasons:

  • administrative units might have very different sizes even within a country

  • metropolitan areas may stretch over administrative borders even though they represent a compact or contiguous geographical area

  • the place of usual residence of some individuals may be very close to the administrative borders so that their crossing might not be relevant for tourism analysis

This is specific to individuals in that 2 people in the same household could possess different usual environments.

The usual environment of an individual includes the place of usual residence of the household to which he/she belongs, his/her own place of work or study and any other place that he/she visits regularly and frequently, even if this place is away from his/her usual residence.

It is important to also recognise the importance of second homes in this context that are visited by members of the household mostly for the purposes of recreation, vacation or any other form of leisure.

One approach to defining the usual environment is to determine where people normally carry out everyday activities, such as the area where they live, the area where they work and the area where they go to shop.

Trips away from these locations would then be classed as outside the “usual environment” and could qualify as tourism trips. For excursionists, further detail can be included, such as how long the trip lasted (more than 3 hours, for instance), or how far the excursionist travelled to get to the destination and back.

2.2 How do we define visitors?

There are 2 main categories to consider when we try to define a visitor, and these are whether the visitor is international or domestic.

International visitors are defined as such by the purpose of their trip and include returning resident outbound visitors and arriving inbound visitors in the case of non-residents.

As a visitor travels within his/her country of residence, he/she is a domestic visitor and his/her activities are part of domestic tourism.

Box 1 Visitor classification

  • domestic tourism comprises the activities of a resident visitor within the country either as part of a domestic trip or part of an outbound trip

  • inbound tourism comprises the activities of a non-resident visitor within the country on an inbound trip

  • outbound tourism comprises the activities of a resident visitor outside the country, either as part of an outbound trip or as part of a domestic trip

These can be combined to form a further classification of visitors:

  • internal tourism = domestic and inbound tourism

  • national tourism = domestic tourism and outbound tourism

  • international tourism = inbound and outbound tourists

These 3 classifications are important as they are used, for example, in Eurostat regulations on tourism statistics.


Turning to those who make trips (visitors), we can point to a definition commonly used by those undertaking analysis in the tourism sector:

“A visitor is a traveller taking a trip to a main destination outside his/her usual environment, for less than a year, for any main purpose (business, leisure or other personal purpose) other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited.” (IRTS, 2008)

Travel of domestic, inbound or outbound visitors is called domestic, inbound or outbound tourism, respectively. Tourism is therefore a subset of travel and visitors are a subset of travellers.

A further important factor is the duration of a trip. A visitor is classified as a tourist if his/her trip includes an overnight stay, or excursionist (sometimes referred to as day visitor) otherwise.

In the English Tourism Research and Intelligence Partnership (ETRIP) document on defining tourism terms, visitors are defined in 3 categories:

  • “Tourists who are visitors staying away from home for 1 or more nights for any of the purposes noted under tourism and who are not remunerated at the places visited. Within the UK, such visitors may be domestic (from within the UK) or inbound (resident in other countries). The range of purposes includes social reasons for visits such as weddings and other family gatherings and events.

  • Same-day visitors spending at least 3 hours away from home outside their usual environment for general leisure, recreational and social purposes but not staying away overnight. In principle, business visitors away from their usual working environment for day visits should be included (these are distinguishable on the international passenger survey but not on surveys of domestic day visits). Also known as tourist day visitors.

  • Leisure day visitors spending less than 3 hours away from home but outside their usual environment, for general leisure, recreational or social purposes.”

(ETRIP tourism terms paper, 2011)

Sources of information and statistics on the various types of visitor activities can be found in Appendix 2 to this report.

2.3 Further demand-side definitions

A travel party refers to visitors travelling together on a trip and whose expenditures are pooled. This differs from organised “group” travel where individuals travel as part of a larger group but are not pooling expenditure.

Main purpose of trip. This concept helps to determine whether the trip is actually a tourism trip or not, and for characterising tourism expenditure patterns.

It is important to note that each tourism trip has one and only one main purpose though a visitor can also undertake secondary activities while on his/her trip.

The main purpose of tourism trips can be classified as follows in Box 2 (IRTS, 2008).

Box 2 Purpose of trip

  1. Personal 1.1. Holidays, leisure and recreation 1.2. Visiting friends and relatives 1.3. Education and training 1.4. Health and medical care 1.5. Religion/pilgrimages 1.6. Shopping 1.7. In Transit 1.8. Other
  2. Business and professional

It is important that these trip purpose categories are adhered to when undertaking visitor surveys, for example. Further guidance is provided on this in Guidance Note 3 in this series.

Duration of a trip or visit. The volume of tourism can be characterised by number of nights, as duration of stay is highly correlated with total expenditure.

The duration of a trip that includes an overnight stay is expressed in terms of the number of nights.

When collecting data on the duration of a trip, it is necessary, as a minimum, to classify this according to short breaks and longer periods, for example 1 to 4 nights, and 4 nights and longer.

At the local level of data collection, a finer level of detail may be required than this, and this will depend on the use for which the data is required, for example, for marketing purposes.

Origin and destination. When dealing with inbound trips, it is essential to classify all arrivals by country of residence rather than nationality.

This is an issue for national surveys in particular, for instance, the international passenger survey (IPS).

Outbound trips by UK residents are classified by the main destination of the trip (in other words, the country visited).

At the subnational level, it is essential to characterise trips according to the place of usual residence of the visitor, his/her personal characteristics and the main destination of the trip.

For same-day visits or excursions, this may be further complicated by the fact that the trip origin could be the location of an overnight visit (not the home address) and the day trip is made from that location (for example, from a hotel, caravan park, B&B). This origin information should be considered when collecting visitor information.

Modes of transport. We would normally refer to the main mode used by the visitor on the trip, and this can be established in 3 different ways:

  • the mode on which the most distance is covered

  • the mode on which most time is spent

  • the mode which has the highest share of the total transport cost

The modes of transport to be considered, for example, in a visitor survey, should be based on the classification shown in Box 3.

Box 3 Classification of modes of transport

1. Air

1.1 Scheduled flight 1.2 Unscheduled flight 1.3 Private aircraft 1.4 Other modes of air transport

2. Water

2.1 Passenger line and ferry 2.2 Cruise ship 2.3 Yacht 2.4 Other modes of water transport

3. Land

3.1 Railway 3.2 Motor coach or bus and other public road transportation 3.3 Vehicle rental with driver (i) taxis, limousines and rental of private motor vehicles with driver (ii) rental of man or animal drawn vehicles 3.4 Owned private vehicle (with capacity for up to 8 persons) 3.5 Rented vehicle without operator (with capacity for up to 8 persons) 3.6 Other modes of land transport: horse back, bicycle, motorcycles, etc. 3.7 On foot

Types of accommodation. There are many different types of accommodation available to visitors, and these are detailed in the International Recommendations on Tourism Statistics (IRTS, 2008). This can extend from a 5-star hotel to staying with friends while on a trip.

However, when trying to assess the impact of various types of accommodation in terms of turnover or employment, it is helpful to follow a breakdown based upon standard industrial classifications (SIC), such as the UK standard industrial classifications 2007 (SIC07).

These are summarised below and provide a minimum range of accommodation that we might wish to collect business data on particularly, but it is also of use when asking visitors what type of accommodation they have stayed in:

  • hotels and similar accommodation

  • youth hostels

  • recreational vehicle parks, trailer parks and camping grounds

  • holiday centres and villages

  • other holiday and other collective accommodation (for example, apartments, cottages, guest houses)

  • other accommodation (for example, halls of residence, hostels, railway sleepers)

  • rented accommodation (short-term holiday lettings)

  • second homes

Water-borne accommodation (for example, canal boats or sailing boats) is not included under this accommodation category in the SIC. This type of activity is identified separately under SIC 773 renting and leasing of water passenger transport, or SIC 522 service activities incidental to water transport, which would include harbour and berthing activities.

2.4 Tourism Expenditure

Tourism expenditure refers to the amount paid by all categories of visitor noted in section 2.2 for the acquisition of consumption goods and services, as well as valuables, for and during tourism visits/trips.

It includes expenditures by visitors themselves, as well as expenses that are paid for or reimbursed by others.

Any consumption goods or services can be included. This may include standard products such as accommodation or food, but also other products such as valuables (works of art, etc), durable consumer goods (computers, etc), all food prepared and without preparation, all manufactured items whether locally produced or imported, all personal services and so on.

2.4.1 How do economies benefit from tourism expenditure?

There are various categories of tourism expenditure, which are summarised in Box 4.

Box 4 Categories of tourism expenditure

  • domestic tourism expenditure: tourism expenditure of a resident visitor within the country of reference

  • inbound tourism expenditure: the tourism expenditure of a non-resident visitor within the economy of reference

  • outbound tourism expenditure: tourism expenditure of a resident visitor outside the economy of reference

From these definitions we can derive 2 more:

Internal tourism expenditure comprises all tourism expenditure of visitors both resident and non-resident, within the economy of reference. Internal tourism expenditure = domestic tourism expenditure + inbound tourism expenditure. It also includes imports sold to visitors.

National tourism expenditure comprises all tourism expenditure of resident visitors within and outside the economy of reference. National tourism expenditure = domestic tourism expenditure + outbound tourism expenditure.

It is important to note that goods bought in the country of origin before an international trip are considered tourism expenditure, but should be attributed to the country of origin and not to the country of travel.

2.4.2 Classification

In order to relate demand to supply, not only should total tourism expenditure be measured, but also the components that make it up.

Thus, data collected for demand and supply should be classified in a uniform way in which to make both measures comparable, and these are set out in Table 2 below in terms of the services that tourists consume and the activities that generate these.

Table 2: The tourism industries and consumption products

List of categories of tourism-characteristic consumption products and tourism-characteristic activities (tourism industries)
Products Activities
1. Accommodation services for visitors 1. Accommodation for visitors
2. Food and beverage serving services 2. Food and beverage serving activities
3. Railway passenger transport services 3. Railway passenger transport
4. Road passenger transport services 4. Road Passenger transport
5. Water passenger transport services 5. Water passenger transport
6. Air passenger transport services 6. Air passenger transport
7. Transport equipment rental services 7. Transport equipment rental
8. Travel agencies and other reservation services 8. Travel agencies and other reservation services activities
9. Cultural services 9. Cultural activities
10. Sports and recreational services 10. Sports and recreational activities
11. Country-specific tourism characteristic goods 11. Retail trade of country-specific tourism characteristic goods
12. Country-specific tourism characteristic services 12. Country-specific tourism characteristic activities

(Source: IRTS, 2008)

When collecting information on tourism expenditure (for example, through visitor surveys), it is important that the tourism-characteristic products highlighted in Table 2 are covered in terms of the breakdown in Box 5.

As far as “country-specific goods and services” are concerned, in the UK the Tourist Intelligence Unit (TIU) has added SIC codes on the activities of conference and events organisers to reflect the importance of these activities for business tourism in the UK. The full list of SIC codes for the tourism-characteristic activities is in Appendix 3.

Box 5 Tourism expenditure categories

  • package travel, package holidays and package tours

  • accommodation

  • food and drink

  • local transport

  • international transport

  • recreation, culture and sporting activities

  • shopping

  • others

This list may be added to, for example, through further delimiting expenditure on shopping into durable or valuable goods and perishable goods, for example, food and drink not consumed on the establishment premises.

Tourism-characteristic products are those that satisfy 1 or both of the following criteria:

  • tourism expenditure on the product should represent a significant share of total tourism expenditure

  • tourism expenditure on the product should represent a significant share of the supply of the product in the economy; this criterion implies that the supply of a tourism-characteristic product would cease to exist in meaningful quantity in the absence of visitors (IRTS, 2008)

2.5 Visitor economy

In the UK tourism sector there has, in recent years, been significant usage of the term “visitor economy” when referring to tourism. The origin of the term is a little unclear but, nevertheless, it has gained widespread usage in the UK so is worthy of consideration here.

The tourism terms work of ETRIP has provided the following definition for the visitor economy:

“The visitor economy is a fluid, overarching term that refers to the area within which visitor activity and its primary and secondary consequences upon the economy take place. It can vary significantly in terms of scale and scope and can be used to define international, national and subnational geographical areas and need not necessarily be confined by existing, historical boundaries. The term visitor economy is the arena for staying and non-staying visitors together with the activities of public and private sector bodies that are directly or indirectly involved in supplying the goods and services for visitors, as well as the upkeep and development of the public realm including the infrastructure within which, and through which, visitor activities take place. The term ‘tourism economy’ is a subset of the visitor economy and captures those aspects related to only those visitors who are staying within a visitor economy for at least one night and less than one year and not being remunerated for their activities within the visitor economy.”

(ETRIP tourism terms paper, 2011)

The ETRIP tourism terms paper also defines “visitor impact” and “visitor destinations”, and we provide an excerpt from the report here:

“Visitor impact refers to all of the direct, indirect and induced economic, environmental and sociocultural effects arising from visitor activities and the supply of goods and services to visitors that take place within a defined economy. The impacts, both primary and secondary, on the visitor economy, its environment, people and public realm, can be positive and/or negative.

Visitor destinations are defined as places with identified boundaries that are recognised as visitor destinations and for which it is possible to measure the demand for and supply of tourism services (visitor economy). Visitor destination is preferred to ‘tourism destination’ because by definition it includes all categories of visitor.”

(ETRIP tourism terms paper, 2011)

These terms relating to a “visitor economy” clearly indicate a much wider definition than that for tourism, encompassing direct and indirect economic effects, public and private sector supply of goods and services and upkeep of the public realm and infrastructure.

Use of this term presents particular challenges if we are to accurately collect statistics and other information about the phenomenon.

This is in contrast to a consideration of the measurement of tourism that is subject to internationally agreed measurement recommendations and methodological frameworks.

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3. Supply-side definitions

When we talk of the supply side of tourism, we are really talking about the provision to visitors of the goods and services that make up tourism expenditure. This tourism supply will be made up of the activities of a wide range of sectors or industries.

Within this we are interested in analysing data for individual establishments that produce the goods or services that tourism consumes.

The establishment is defined as “an enterprise or part of an enterprise that is situated in a single location and in which only a single productive activity is carried out or in which the principal productive activity accounts for most of the value added”.

In this respect, each unit belonging to a chain will be considered as a separate establishment. This is an important distinction as often data, for example on turnover, is collected for “head office” locations and not at the establishment level. Wherever possible, we should seek to undertake analysis at the establishment level (the location where tourists consume goods and services).

3.1 The tourism industries

In this section, we outline some specific measurement issues relating to the main tourism-characteristic activities (sometimes called the tourism industries):

  • accommodation for visitors

  • food and beverage serving activities

  • passenger transportation activities

  • travel agencies and other reservation activities

  • cultural activities

  • sports and recreation activities

  • country-specific tourism activities

3.1.1 Accommodation for visitors

It is important that accommodation is classified in such a way that the information contained can be appropriately linked to the data obtained on the demand side.

We have already seen how this classification can be broken down into different categories of accommodation as shown in the following table. Any analysis of the accommodation sector should take into account the following categories where possible:

  • hotels and similar accommodation

  • youth hostels

  • recreational vehicle parks, trailer parks and camping grounds

  • holiday centres and villages

  • other holiday and other collective accommodation

  • other accommodation

  • rented accommodation (short-term holiday lettings)

  • second homes

Accommodation services are provided, either on a commercial (market) basis, that is as a paid service, or on a non-commercial (non-market) basis, either as a service provided without charge by family or friends, or on own-account (owner-occupied vacation homes).

The accommodation units provided can take many forms: fully serviced and furnished guest rooms or suites, and completely self-contained units of 1 or more rooms with kitchen, with or without daily and other regular housekeeping services. They can consist of shared accommodation units such as in youth hostels.

The services provided may include a range of additional ones such as food and beverage services, parking, laundry services and the use of swimming pools, exercise rooms, recreational facilities and conference and convention facilities. One or more of these characteristics can be chosen for setting up market segments.

In many cases, surveys of accommodation establishments provide the most important information source on supply as such a source is normally relatively easy to obtain. In a more detailed regional breakdown, the data of the accommodation statistics is most frequently the only source of information on tourism flows.

To depict tourism flows, the number of arrivals (particularly internationally) and nights spent are the most-used indicators.

Of these two, nights spent are more appropriate to reflect the performance of the accommodation industry and the impact of the tourist’s stay for the place visited as this indicator takes into account the full effect of the duration of the stay.

Dividing the number of nights spent by the number of arrivals provides the average length of stay, which can be used as an analytical indicator to offer additional information on the kind of tourism in a country or region.

The following variables are most frequently used to describe the accommodation capacities:

  • months operating in the year

  • number of rooms or accommodation units (gross, net) (the net indicator takes into consideration the fact that rooms might not always be available for guest accommodation)

  • number of bed places (gross, net) (the net indicator takes into consideration the fact that bed places might not always be available for guest accommodation)

  • revenue per available room (REVPAR)

  • occupancy rates (gross, net) by rooms or accommodation units (an indicator to be associated with revenue per room)

  • occupancy rates (gross, net) by bed places (an indicator to be associated with flows of visitors); below is an example of how to calculate this indicator (from the “Eurostat methodological manual on tourism statistics, 2011”):

where: ORBP – occupancy rate of bed places bdoi – the number of days during which bed i (including extra bed) is occupied in the reference period BDAi – the number of days during which bed i (including extra bed) is available in the reference period i – bed place number (sequential number 1 through n) n – total number of beds in the establishment

Example 1 (no extra beds were used): a hotel has capacity of 50 bed places (permanent) and 10 extra beds (all are available for checking-in). 40 permanent beds were occupied for the whole month (for example, June). No extra beds were used.

Example 2 (extra beds were used): a hotel has capacity of 50 bed places (permanent) and 10 extra beds (all are available for checking-in). All permanent beds were occupied for the whole month (for example, June) and moreover 5 extra beds were used for 15 days.

3.1.2 Food and beverage serving activities

A feature of food and beverage serving activities is that, although they are considered tourism-characteristic activities, establishments in these industries also cater to a large degree to non-visitors or local residents.

For some establishments but also for the industry as a whole, these non-visitors might represent the majority of customers, permanently or at certain times of the year only.

As is the case for accommodation for visitors, food and beverage serving activities can also be provided, on a non-market basis, by family, friends or relatives.

For this reason, it is important to classify visitors by type of accommodation (identifying separately non-market or serviced accommodation) as well as purpose of trip (identifying visiting family and friends) in order to be able to validate the amount of expenditure in food and beverage serving services by different categories of visitors.

Different categories of establishments providing food and beverage services in each country should be identified, although there is no general classification that would fit all the variants.

For example, there are generally full-service restaurants with or without beverage service, sometimes referred to as fine dining, family restaurants with full service, self-service restaurants or cafeterias with seating, take-out or take-away establishments, stands or street vendors with fixed locations, bars and nightclubs.

Some additional non-monetary information associated with food and beverage serving activities might be of interest and is shown in Box 6.

Box 6 Non monetary items relating to the food and drink sector

For restaurants with seating:

  • Total number of clients that can be accommodated per serving.

  • Number of tables.

  • Number of seats.

  • Number of meals that can be served daily.

  • Number of meals actually served.

For take-out establishments:

  • Number of meals that can be served daily.

  • Number of meals actually served.

For bars and night-clubs:

  • Number of customers.

  • Number of drinks actually served.

3.1.3 Passenger transportation

“Long-distance passenger transport activities are to be considered as tourism-characteristic activities. The expenditure on transportation often represents an important share of total tourism expenditure by visitors, particularly in the case of visitors travelling by air” (International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics (IRTS), 2008).

For analytical purposes, passenger transportation is usually considered under 2 different categories: transportation to or from the destination, and transportation at the destination.

This is particularly important in the case of international travel because of the need to identify the economy that will benefit from the expenditure associated with transportation.

In order to do this, it is necessary to identify the residence of the carrier(s), a process which might be problematic when more than 1 carrier is involved. In the case of domestic travel, it is necessary to identify where the service is delivered and who is the service provider in order to identify the economy (at the national or local level) that benefits from the expenditure.

It is important to classify trips by the main mode of transport (as seen previously), but it should be noted that this may not result in all types of transport used on the trip being accounted for.

Some additional non-monetary information associated with the supply of passenger transportation services is of interest, and this is shown in Box 7.

Box 7 Non monetary items relating to the transport sector

Long distance public transportation:

  • Number of vehicles for road transport/aircrafts, vessels, for air and water.

  • Number of available seats.

  • Number of passengers transported.

  • Capacity utilization.

  • Number of passenger-kilometers/miles produced.

Rental of vehicles:

  • Number of vehicles (cars, vans, caravans, boats, yachts, etc.) available for rent without operator.

  • Number of vehicle-days available for rent in a given period (month, year).

  • Number of vehicle-days actually rented.

3.1.4 Travel agencies and other reservation activities

Visitors (or potential visitors), when planning and organising their trip, often use the services of travel agencies in order to get information on different alternatives and for making their bookings (transport, accommodation, recreation activities either packaged or individually purchased, etc).

The function of travel agencies consists mainly of selling the right to use a certain service provided by others at a certain moment in time and within certain conditions.

Their role is to provide information and other services to the visitor, and they are the intermediary in the purchase of certain services, although they might also provide additional services, such as accompanying tours, guiding services, etc.

These agencies and reservation services operate in some ways as “retailers” of these services that are sold to the public.

However, their function is different from that of a retailer of a good because it is still the producer of the service who finally serves the consumer. There is no substitution of relationships, only an efficient way for producers to make their products available to the public and sell them (IRTS, 2008).

Their functions consist mainly of selling the right to use a certain service provided by others at a certain moment in time and within certain conditions. Gross revenues of travel agencies on reservation services are of 3 kinds:

  • those collected directly from visitors through a specific invoice

  • gross commercial margins representing retail trade services when travel agents remunerate themselves implicitly through a retail trade operation

  • commissions paid by the providers of tourism services when they operate as their agents, similar in operation to retail trade services on a fee or contract basis

It is worthwhile to further define some subcategories of interest within the travel agency sector.

Tour operators: businesses that combine 2 or more travel services and sell them through travel agencies or directly to final consumers as a single product for a single price.

Package tour: should not be viewed as a product per se, but rather as the sum of its components, including the gross margin of the tour operator and that of the travel agency that sells it to the public.

Gross margin of tour operator: the price that the visitor pays to the operator minus the value of the components that make up the tour at the prices the operator paid for those components.

In addition to the information on their own activity, travel agencies and other reservation activities constitute an important source of information on the services that are purchased through their intermediation, both in monetary terms as well as in non-monetary terms.

Travel agencies should be able to provide quantitative information on the number and values of products sold, categories of destinations, types of clients – business, others (trips and/or packages either domestic/outbound/inbound), and other information. In summary, travel agencies should hold information on the following:

  • domestic trips

  • trips without package

  • domestic packages

  • international trips

  • inbound trips without package

  • outbound trips without package

  • inbound package

  • outbound package

3.1.5 Cultural activities

Cultural activities when applied to the tourism sector include a number of subclasses in terms of the standard industrial classifications (SIC) proposed in international recommendations, in particular:

  • performing arts

  • support activities for the performing arts

  • artistic creation

  • operation of arts facilities

  • museums activities

  • operation of historical sites and buildings and similar visitor attractions

  • botanical and zoological gardens, and nature reserves activities (IRTS, 2008)

3.1.6 Sports and recreation activities

The following SIC subcategories are used to determine the make-up of sports and recreation activities that are relevant to tourism:

  • gambling and betting activities

  • operation of sports facilities

  • other sports activities

  • activities of amusement parks and theme parks

  • other amusement and recreation activities (not covered elsewhere)

  • renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods (IRTS, 2008)

3.1.7 Country-specific tourism goods and services

Country-specific tourism goods are highlighted in the International Recommendations on Tourism Statistics (IRTS, 2008) as an area where there can be some latitude or flexibility in including certain SIC categories that might be of particular importance in the context of the tourism sector of individual countries.

In the case of the UK, the country-specific SIC categories attempt to capture the important activities of exhibition, fair and conference organisation:

  • activities of exhibition and fair organisers

  • activities of conference organisers

3.2 Employment

When considering tourism employment, we need to restrict our definition to those employed within the previously defined tourism industries (Appendix 3 in this guidance note).

According to international recommendations, there exist 3 measures of employment within the tourism sector:

  • a count of the persons employed in the tourism industries in any of their jobs

  • a count of the persons employed in tourism industries in their main job

  • a count of the jobs in tourism industries

When considering employment within tourism, people working within the sector can be classified in 1 of the following categories.

Paid employment. This relates to all those persons who, during a specified period, performed some work for a wage or salary in cash or in kind, in other words all those who are classed as “at work”.

Self-employment. “At work” refers to persons who, during the reference period, performed some work for profit or family gain, in cash or in kind.

“With an enterprise but not at work” refers to any person with an enterprise, which, for example, may be a business enterprise, a farm or a service enterprise, who are temporarily not at work during the reference period for any specific reason.

Self-employment jobs are those jobs where the remuneration is directly dependent on the profits (or the potential of profits) derived from the goods and services produced.

Self-employed can be divided into 2 groups, those with and those without paid employees. Those with paid employees are classified as employers and those without paid employees are classified as own-account workers.

In addition, self-employed also include contributing family workers and members of producers’ co-operatives.

Employment related to demand and supply. With regards to the demand side, the statistical unit of employment is jobs.

With regards to the supply side, the statistical unit is person employed.

Some people may have more than 1 job, in which case the primary job will be the one in which most time is spent and/or generates the most income. The other(s) will be secondary jobs.

Thus, employment can be expressed in terms of:

  • number of persons

  • number of jobs (full time/part time)

  • number of hours of work

  • full-time equivalent employment

In order to adequately analyse employment in the tourism industries, it is recommended internationally that at the national level a set of key variables (shown in Box 8) for each of the tourism industries previously identified should be collected (IRTS, 2008).

Box 8 Tourism employment variables

  • Employment by age group, sex and nationality/country of residence (if relevant).

  • Employment by type of establishments (size, formal, informal, etc).

  • Employment classified by occupation and status in employment.

  • Permanent/temporary employment expressed in terms of number of jobs, hours of work, full-time equivalent, etc.

  • Employment by educational attainment.

  • Hours of work (normal/usual, actually worked, paid for).

  • Working time arrangements.

The collection of data on employment in the tourism industries can be a complex process. By its nature, employment in the tourism industries can be undertaken either in paid employment or self-employment.

In order to achieve a better coverage and get more detailed characteristics of persons employed, it is necessary to use the following major sources of data collection:

  • household-based sample surveys, such as the ONS labour force survey

  • establishment-based sample surveys, such as the ONS annual business inquiry

  • administrative records, such as the ONS inter-departmental business register

Guidance Note 5 (237.6 Kb Pdf) in this series considers the measurement of the supply side of tourism in more detail.

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4. Other issues

This section is derived from the English Tourism Research and Intelligence Partnership (ETRIP) Tourism Terms Working Group research and is concerned with the public sector issues of destination management and public realm that are outside the scope of “tourism industries” as defined and covered in section 3.

4.1 Destination management

“Although a term now widely used throughout the UK, destination management and the associated organisations responsible for it are relatively recent and loosely used concepts still in theand the process forof establishing formal definitions for them is ongoing.

In terms of the definition of visitor destinations, it follows logically that effective management increasingly requires a formal planning and development process for the visitor economy as part of an overall local authority Development Framework or the Local Plans expected to be a requirement of government (England) by 2012.

To be effective, modern destination management organisations, Destination Management Organisations (DMOs), have to be underpinned by the local planning and development process and must engage (directly or indirectly) with the following 5 processes. These processes are recommended as the criteria for any official recognition of bodies adopting the title of DMO:

  • planning and development strategy for the destination (relevant to managing supply and demand) – reflecting local community consultation

  • directly or indirectly, the processes designed to manage all categories of visitors at the destination

  • maintaining and developing the quality of the destination experience for residents and visitors (public realm)

  • operation of a systematic means of tourism research and intelligence and measuring visitor activities (demand) and the supply of services provided for them

  • formal collaboration with local businesses and other bodies engaged in providing services at the destination

Traditionally interpreted in the UK as a local authority role with support from local tourism businesses to undertake promotion, 21st-century destination management requires a designated collaborative partnership with all relevant partners engaged in the 5 main processes noted above.

The destination partners are local authorities working with Local Enterprise Partnershipss (LEPs) and other relevant public sector organisations, and local businesses supplying tourism services (tourism industries)” (ETRIP tourism terms paper, 2011).

4.2 Public realm

“Public realm is the accepted and widely used term in England for the services that relate primarily to the usage of spaces available for the public (residents and visitors).

These spaces are the direct responsibility of local authorities funded by government, local business rates, council taxes on residents and an authority’s own revenue-earning activities.

Aspects of public space provision are often also partly vested in other public sector agencies working with local authorities.

Public realm covers access to destinations and amenity spaces such as city/town/village centres, squares, parks and gardens, pedestrian areas, paths, and river/canal/seaside promenades.

It covers local roads, car parking and services such as cleansing and litter services associated with public spaces.

It embraces lighting, pavement and road surfaces, and signage.

It includes services to sustain heritage architecture and monuments.

The concept of public realm is also used to cover public services such as toilets and information provision.

It also covers responsibility for licensing and regulating suppliers of visitor services.

Where local authorities provide, manage or subsidise theatres, museums, piers and similar cultural provision available to the public, these are also aspects of the public realm.

In a visitor sense, public realm is the stage on which the overall quality of the experiences received at destinations is delivered. It is what makes places attractive or unattractive to visitors.

It is not the direct responsibility of local businesses although they may be involved as in the Business Improvement District (BID) projects in operation since 2005 and in planning gain decisions.

In the wider context, public realm is always part of the local quality of life for residents: what defines the specialness and attractiveness of places, and influences inward investment generally.

“Some parts of the duties involved in public real provision are a statutory requirement for local authorities, most obviously environmental, highways and cultural services. Other parts are not statutory” (ETRIP tourism terms paper, 2011).

4.3 Responsible tourism

Also known as “wise” or “sustainable” tourism, responsible tourism has been defined by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as:

“tourism that meets the needs of present [visitors] and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future.” (UNWTO, 2004: Indicators for sustainable tourism: a guidebook)

Achieving responsible tourism at a destination obviously has economic and sociocultural as well as environmental implications.

“Effective implementation requires a destination management organisation (DMO), a formal management plan with stated objectives for more sustainable forms of tourism and an agreed process for targeting and – as far as it is possible – encouraging and/or discouraging forms of tourism demand and supply according to their relative contributions” (ETRIP Tourism Terms paper, 2011).


United Nations World Tourism Organization, Statistical Office of the European Communities, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2008),International Recommendations on Tourism Statistics (IRTS, 2008), New York, Luxembourg, Paris, Madrid

United Nations World Tourism Organization (2010), The system of tourism statistics: basic references. Madrid, 2010

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.Guidance Note 1: Definitions of tourism (Version 2) - Appendix 1

English Tourism Research and Intelligence Partnership (ETRIP) summary of tourism terms.

Definitions of tourism (Version 2) - Appendix 1

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.Guidance Note 1: Definitions of tourism (Version 2) - Appendix 2

.Definitions of tourism (Version 2) - Appendix 3

Tourism industries as defined by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), according to international standard industrial classification of all economic activities, Revision 4 (ISIC Rev.4).

Definitions of tourism (Version 2) - Appendix 3

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