People, Travel

Tourism Data: A Matter of Perspective

Tourism Data: A Matter of PerspectiveTourism Data: A Matter of Perspective

It is almost impossible for a tourism official to give a speech or an interview without mentioning that Iran’s inbound tourism numbers have increased by 12% in the past two years, which is three times higher than the global average.

While this is technically true, a former official warns against reading too much into it.

“The figures they cite are correct, but their interpretation of the numbers is way off base,” said Ardeshir Arouji, a former head of the Planning and Statistics Office at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, ISNA reported.

Arouji said the 12% growth in inbound numbers is negligible in the grand scheme of things.

“Growth in countries with low inbound figures is more prominent. For example, when you go from 2 million foreign tourists to 4 million, that’s a 100% growth, but 4 million visitors is a very small number,” he said.

Iran received about 5.5 million foreign tourists in 2015, according to official reports released by ICHHTO, while globally more than 1.18 international tourist arrivals were recorded.

“That means our share of the global travel market is a meager 0.4%,” Arouji noted, adding that it is better to stop comparing the industry’s growth with the global tourism sector and instead see if the increase in inbound figures is in line with the country’s tourism target, which is to attract 20 million foreign tourists a year by 2025.