Dr. Tadayuki Hara, associate dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, recently spoke to hundreds of European government statisticians, policy-makers, and destination marketing organizations, as a member of a discussion panel at the 2012 Global Forum on Tourism Statistics in Reykjavík, Iceland.

The Forum, organized by Eurostat and the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), provides a unique platform for the global exchange of views, best practices, and important topics concerning the establishment of harmonized tourism statistics among governments, the private sector, statisticians, researchers, and academics.

As the only panelist from the United States, Hara, whose trip was sponsored by the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), offered both an American and Japanese perspective regarding the progress of tourism and its future.

“Using statistical data, we discussed ways to improve tourism in different countries around the world,” said Hara. “We discussed indicators of success, internal and external influences, the benefits of small businesses, and even ways to combat seasonality, or non-peak tourism seasons.”

According Hara, the exchange of statistical data is necessary for destinations to improve their tourism industry and subsequently their respective economies.

“Orlando spends a great deal of money marketing to tourists around the world,” said Hara. “By collecting data from throughout the tourism industry, we can analyze our return on investment. We know where tourists are visiting us from, the average length stay by nationality, and even how much different nationalities spend here. Therefore, the data can help Orlando improve its marketing efforts, and ultimately attract more tourists to spend their time and money here.”

Over the last few years, Hara has established a well-known presence for UCF’s Rosen College in the tourism statistics field, serving on the Technical Advisory Board of the Tourism Satellite Accounts and Statistics Division of United Nations World Tourism Organization, as part of a JTA delegation. He is also an associate member of InRoute – a regional tourism statistics researcher network based in Spain and Italy.