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Desertification Indicator System for Mediterranean Europe

1. Definition



Brief definition

Trend of number of tourists per destination in the last 10 years.

Unit of measure

Change in number

2. Position within the logical framework DPSIR

Type of Indicator

Driving force

3. Target and political pertinence


The indicator shows how the tourism destinations have changed in the last 10 years in the specific area.

Importance with respect to desertification

To monitor and programme change in tourism destinations is important in order to manage tourism in areas more vulnerable to land degradation processes.

International Conventions and agreements

In 1996, three international organizations - the World Travel & Tourism Council, the World Tourism Organization and the Earth Council - joined together to launch an action plan: "Agenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Industry: Towards Environmentally Sustainable Development", a sectoral sustainable development programme based on the results of the 1992 Earth Summit. The UN Commission for Sustainable Development, at its Seventh Session in 1999, considered tourism as an economic sector, held a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the topic and adopted an international work programme on sustainable tourism development. Implementation of the programme will be reviewed in 2002 as part of the 10- year review of progress achieved since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

With respect to the European Commission, Article 3u in the Amsterdam Treaty included, for the first time, 'measures in the sphere of tourism' in the list of Community activities chosen in support of the Community's overall objectives. However the Treaty gives no particular guidance for a Community tourism policy and there is no specific legal basis for Community measures on tourism. In 1999, while discussing the Commission's communication "Enhancing Tourism's Potential for Employment" the Council of (Internal Market) Ministers recalled the importance of better integration of the needs of the tourism sector into other Community policies and invited the Commission and the Member States to work together on a number of priority issues including promoting environmental protection and sustainable development in tourism. EU Working groups (Member States and European Commission) addressed these issues and were due to recommend a set of policies to the Council by mid-2001.

Secondary objectives of the indicator

The indicator helps provide suggestions for programme actions and policies to improve tourism in a more sustainable environment.

4. Methodological description and basic definitions

Definitions and basic concepts

A tourist is a visitor who stays at least one night in collective or private accommodation in the country visited.

The indicator adopts the numbers of overnight stays as a measure of numbers of tourists.

A night spent (or overnight stay) is each night that a guest actually spends (sleeps or stays) or is registered in a collective accommodation establishment or in private tourism accommodation.

Benchmarks Indication of the values/ranges of value

I° range: < Local Mean -St. Dev.
II° range: >Local Mean - St. Dev. < Local Mean
III° range: > Local Mean < Local Mean + St. Dev.
IV° range: > Local Mean + St. Dev

Methods of measurement

To calculate the indicator, the number of overnight stays (including second homes) in a specific destination over one year is compared for the last 10 years.

Limits of the indicator

The indicator does not take into account the factors affecting change, those that are within local control and those that are external. The indicator does not take into account visitor activities. At many sites it is the day trip activities that may cause damage to the environment. Therefore to focus on overnight tourists may overlook a major pressure, but data on day trip activities is more difficult to collect (see also tourism intensity).

Linkages with other indicators

The indicator is closely linked to other tourism indicators such as Penetration of tourist eco-labels, Tourism intensity.

5. Evaluation of data needs and availability

Data required to calculate the indicator

Data on the number of nights spent by residents and non residents in tourist accommodation (hotel, campsites, second homes and with friends). Where data on second home and friends are not available, these may be omitted, and a specification of this exclusion may be inlcuded.

Data sources

The primary data sources are national statistical offices and country publications.

Availability of data from national and international sources

Apart from national statistical agencies, the data are also available from Eurostat, World Tourism Organization and OECD.

6. Institutions that have participated in developing the indicator

Main institutions responsible


Other contributing organizations

Universities of Basilicata, Lisbon, Murcia, Athens.

7. Additional information


Eurostat-OECD-WTO, Tourism Satellite Account (TSA): Methodological References, 2000.

Other references

World Tourism Organisation, 1996. What tourism managers need to know. A practical guide to the development and use of indicators of sustainable tourism, WTO Spain.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1994. Environmental Indicators - OECD Core Set, OECD Paris.


Contacts Name and address

University of Basilicata
Prof Giovanni Quaranta
email: quaranta@unibas.it