People, Travel

Tourism Statistics “Unreliable”

Tourism Statistics “Unreliable”Tourism Statistics “Unreliable”

Statistics on inbound and domestic tourists are key to assessing the effects of tourism on the economy and making plans for the development of the sector. Yet, Iran has failed to come up with an effective method to gather data on the matter.

Various methods have been adopted, including data gathering from entry ports or person-per-trip and person-per-night of stay formulas, but none has proven reliable.

Speaking to CHN, Saeed Amirian, an expert on tourism planning, dismissed all the figures published by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization as “unreliable and non-statistical,” declaring that the only credible data are those reported by the Statistical Center of Iran.

The SCI gathers information on domestic tourism by distributing questionnaires among a statistical society of households across the country and analyzing the results.  

However, these data are collected on a seasonal basis and cover one or two seasons each year.

“Even the SCI has not yet managed to provide a comprehensive annual report on the country’s domestic tourism,” he said.

Referring to inbound tourism statistics, Amirian said the information presented to ICHHTO is more valid because the number of travelers entering the country is precisely documented at entry ports by the immigration police.

Nonetheless, it still does not provide useful information because it is not possible to determine how many of them travel for leisure and how many are in Iran on business, said the expert, adding that the stats only indicate “the number of travelers rather than tourists”.  

Another issue is that statistics are often published with delays, which means they are out of date and do not reflect the current state of the industry.

“They only focus on the number of tourists and other factors such as number of trips, nights of stay, expenses and other parameters are either neglected or described too generally,” he said.

The studies are carried out on sample groups and then generalized to the total population. This is while tourists are dynamic, ever-changing populations whose activities are affected by a large number of factors, including the weather or economy.