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Target 12.b

Sustainable Tourism

target 12.b

Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.

Indicator 12.b.1

Implementation of standard accounting tools to monitor the economic and environmental aspects of tourism sustainability.

Sustainable tourism is “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts whilst addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. [...] It is a continuous process and requires constant monitoring of impacts”.

SDG indicator 12.b.1 measures the level of statistical capacity at the national and global levels to credibly and comparably monitor the sustainability of tourism, especially the economic and environmental dimensions. It has the added advantage of not only monitoring and encouraging attainment of target 12.b, but also of supporting the monitoring of other targets related to tourism, notably 8.9. 

It does so by tracking progress on the implementation of two standard accounting tools relevant for sustainable tourism (the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA)) which enable the derivation of key indicators on tourism’s economic and environmental impact (SDG 8.9.1 derives from the tourism satellite account). 

Monitoring indicator 12.b thus provides a motivation to put in place the necessary statistical development in countries towards implementing the broader Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (SF-MST). SF-MST not only focusses on the economic and environmental dimensions of tourism through the TSA and SEEA but also on the social dimension of tourism, allowing for a comprehensive picture of tourism’s role in sustainable development. Indeed, the UN Statistical Commission has recognized the SF-MST as the main tool for monitoring the contribution of tourism to the SDG Agenda.

In general, the collected data show that the availability of TSA and SEEA data has significantly increased at the global level since 2009, showcasing the efforts of Member States to develop and implement tools to monitor (sustainable) tourism as called for in Target 12.b. This is a positive development towards measuring and understanding the sustainability of tourism and its role in achieving the SDGs.

Related SDGs

Global and Regional Progress

Custodian Agencies

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The UNWTO is committed to facilitating the role of the tourism sector towards Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). It is the custodian agency of Indicator 12.b.1, “Implementation of standard accounting tools to monitor the economic and environmental aspects of tourism sustainability”.

UNWTO co-leads the Sustainable Tourism Programme (STP) of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP). The programme aims to develop SCP practices that result in enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes and promote sustainability in the tourism sector.

UNWTO recently released the report ‘Baseline Report on the Integration of Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns into Tourism Policies,’, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The report outlines additional ways in which the UNWTO is currently contributing to SDG 12 targets by promoting more sustainable national tourism policies.

For instance, by encouraging tourism policies that address SCP impact areas, UNWTO directly contributes to achieving SDG 12.1 and mainstreaming SCP into national policies. UNWTO also plays a part in promoting tourism policies that contribute to SDG 12.3, given the relevance of gastronomy and food to tourism.

UNWTO helps promote tourism policies can encourage more sustainability reporting by tourism businesses to advance SDG 12.6 and increase information availability on the impacts of tourism.

Responsible for:

Guidance material


Metadata 12.B.1


Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008


System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012 Central Framework

External source

Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008

External source

Related resources