People, Travel

Revamping Tourism Data Collection, Dissemination

Statistics are key to assessing the effects of tourism on the economy.Statistics are key to assessing the effects of tourism on the economy.

Iran has finally taken firm steps toward sorting out one of the biggest problems plaguing its travel industry: Statistics.

Late last week, the High Council of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, headed by First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, approved a plan that obliges the Statistical Center of Iran to devise means by which accurate tourism data are periodically collected, stored, analyzed and released by the end of the next Iranian year (March 2019), ISNA reported.

"The plan was actually ready for implementation in 2002, but it was never executed," said Mostafa Dehqan, a senior advisor to ICHHTO chief, Zahra Ahmadipour.

The plan was included in the National Tourism Document that was put on hold by the previous administration

The country's poor performance in data reporting, at least in the field of tourism, has resulted in the release of figures that can neither be confirmed nor denied. And the statistics are presented in the most disorganized and opaque manner.

Which country do most health tourists come from? Which domestic airports issue tourism visas on arrival and to citizens of which countries? Which Iranian city hosted the largest number of cultural tourists? These are but a few key questions that an up-to-date data gathering system should address.

The UN World Tourism Organization, along with most other countries, uses a system known as Tourism Satellite Accounts.

TSA is a standard statistical framework and the main tool for the economic measurement of tourism. It adopts a system of national accounts, which records the acquisition of goods and services by visitors while traveling. This enables the generation of tourism economic data, such as the industry’s contribution to GDP, which is comparable with other economic statistics.

With the approval of the plan, the high council has tasked the statistical center with the job of setting up a TSA. Iran has not submitted inbound tourism figures to UNWTO since 2004 and worse, it has failed to disclose where foreign tourists come from since 1995. Statistics on foreign and domestic tourists are key to assessing the effects of tourism on the economy and making plans for the development of the sector.

If Iran is to achieve its ambitious tourism goals, it really has to step up its game by revamping the framework of data management.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints