In an ongoing effort to identify how much meetings contribute to national economies and, therefore, the global economy, six countries have agreed to take part in a pilot project. It will provide a standard methodology by adapting the United Nations Tourism Satellite Accounting’s conceptual framework.

At the recent EIBTM in Barcelona, international economist Santiago Guerreiro said that there was strong evidence that a meeting attendee made a significant contribution to the economy.

For example, according to data from Turespaña 2007, on average tourists spent 857 euros, business tourists 1,081 euros, and meeting participants 1,529 euros.

Guerreiro was appointed in September by the joint steering group set up to implement and fund the project, which includes the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the International Congress and Convention Association, Meeting Professionals International, Reed Travel Exhibitions, and EIBTM (see related story).

Over the next 12 to 18 months, Guerreiro will be working with Australia, Austria, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, and Spain to assess data for the supply side such as fees, commissions, costs, value added, and employment; and on the demand side, including expenditures by participants at meetings on specific services, complemented by data such as number of participants, length of meetings, number of nights in hotels, and distance traveled to attend a meeting.

“It is clear that the meetings industry has an economic relevance and is a key driver of growth,” added Guerreiro. “But there is a lack of a harmonized, integrated approach to measurement, which is damaging the industry’s visibility, recognition, and credibility.”