Domestic Travel Stats for Spring 2014 Released in 2016

Travel & Environment Desk
Domestic Travel Stats for Spring 2014 Released in 2016! Too Little, Too Late
Domestic Travel Stats for Spring 2014 Released in 2016! Too Little, Too Late

The Statistical Center of Iran, the country's foremost authority on facts and figures, released a report on Monday detailing travel statistics for the peak season of spring—that is, spring of 2014.

Underdeveloped infrastructure and poor marketing are generally considered to be the major obstacles stymieing the growth of the nascent tourism sector in Iran. While that may be true, addressing those concerns requires access to solid data.

"Where do most foreign tourists come from? What type of accommodation do they prefer? Are they interested in Isfahan's historical structures or Tehran's bustling shopping malls?"

The answers to those questions, and many more, are found in statistics, but the lack of data has been a problem plaguing not just the tourism sector, but many other industries as well.

The SCI cannot be entirely faulted for the late delivery of this report (which only covers three months—not even the whole year and that too only for domestic tourism). The experts at the center rely on data provided to them by a myriad of other entities, such as airports, the immigration police and Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Most Iranian experts single out the lack of statistical knowledge due to poor, and at times, contradicting data as the main reason undermining tourism plans and the future course of action.

Observers say Iran is in dire need of introducing Tourism Satellite Accounts—a standard statistical framework and the main tool for the economic measurement of tourism.

TSA 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.

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.

In a report published last year by the World Tourism and Travel Council, it was pointed out that lack of TSA in Iran forces the council to produce estimates instead of precise figures.

In an article published in August in the Persian daily SAMT (an abbreviation of the Persian words for industry, mine and trade), journalist Saba Rezaei questioned the secrecy governing the tourism officials’ attitude toward disclosing data.

“It is, indeed, curious that while every other industry has access to the statistics they need and have no qualms about going public with them, those involved in the tourism sector opt to hide the details,” he said.

Statistics on foreign and domestic tourists are key to assessing the effects of tourism on the economy, identifying the deficiencies and problem and making plans to boost tourism.

If Iran is to achieve its ambitious tourism goals, it really has to step up its game with stats and produce precise and comprehensive figures in a timely fashion.


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