Tourism Improving, But Balance Remains Negative

Tourism Improving, But Balance Remains NegativeTourism Improving, But Balance Remains Negative

The Parliament’s Research Center has recently published its latest report on tourism, ‘Tourism Statistics Index’, an analysis of the country’s traveling data using the 2014-2015 statistics of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) along with the reports of Statistics Center of Iran between the years of 2008 and 2013.

The report aims to portray a realistic role of the tourism industry in the country’s economy. It also attempts to define the statistical indices and their function which are necessary to the establish Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA), the Persian daily Donya-e Eghtesad reported.

TSA is a standard statistical framework and the main tool for the economic measurement of tourism. As it has been mentioned in WTTC reports, lack of TSA in countries like Iran forces the council to produce estimates instead of precise figures in their reports. It also hinders the process of precise up-to-date data gathering; something that is vital to achieving a transparent and accurate statistical system for tourism industry.

According to official reports, tourism’s share of Iran’s GDP was 6.1% in 2014. What is interesting, however, is that domestic tourism was responsible for 81.5% of that figure, indicating a 10% rise compared to 2013 and firmly placing Iran 4th in global rankings for tourism growth. The industry also created 1.2 million jobs in 2014.

  Negative Balance

Despite the growth, the tourism balance of the country is still negative, necessitating more effective policies to help change the equation.

The Majlis report indicates the number of incoming tourists in 2012 was 3.8 million, raking in $1.1 billion in revenues. Most inbound tourists hailed from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Turkey.

On the other hand, Iranians who traveled abroad spent over $7.5 billion in 2013. Considering the huge difference between the expenses of inbound and outbound tourists, Iran ended its tourism year with a negative balance totaling $6.5 billion.

Low inclination of domestic travelers towards using tour packages, aggregation of travels in specific times of the year, take accommodation at relatives’ and acquaintances’ houses or state-owned lodges are but a few factors responsible for the low turnover of domestic tourism.

 Promoting Domestic Tourism

The data presented by the report highlight the significant role of the Majlis in developing domestic tourism, by passing laws facilitating both foreign and domestic investment in the industry.

Furthermore, the report asserts, promoting travelling throughout the year is an important step in moving away from ‘traditional’ holiday months. Moreover, article 23 of service management law, which prohibits executive bodies of the government from owning lodging facilities, must be strictly implemented. According to the law, the government must only supervise lodging establishments.

  Need for Accurate Data

A quick glance at the report also points to some concern over inconsistencies in statistics. For instance, the data for tourism revenue dates back to 2012, while figures concerning expenses of Iranians who went abroad are from 2013.

Implementation of TSA is of utmost importance in order to accurately pinpoint obstacles hindering the industry’s growth and effectively plan for the future.