Tourism statistics: Early adopters of big data?
This paper, originally prepared for the 6th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics, gives an overview of the different sources of big data and their potential relevance in compiling tourism statistics. It discusses the opportunities and risks that the use of new sources can create: new or faster data with better geographical granularity; synergies with other areas of statistics sharing the same sources; cost efficiency; user trust; partnerships with organisations holding the data; access to personal data; continuity of access and output; quality control and independence; selectivity bias; alignment with existing concepts and definitions; the need for new skills, and so on.
The global dimension of big data and the transnational nature of companies or networks holding the data call for a discussion in an international context, even though legal and ethical issues often have a strongly local component.
Feasibility study on the use of mobile positioning data for tourism statistics
In 2012-2014 a study was carried out to assess the feasibility of using mobile positioning data for (tourism) statistics. The study, which was a forerunner of Eurostat's current work in the area of Big Data, had the objective to address most technical, legal and quality-related issues that may surround the use of data stored by mobile network operators for official statistics.
- Consolidated report
This report summarises in a nutshell the tasks and findings of the study that are discussed in more detail in the full reports below. The consolidated report includes an executive summary and conclusions.
- Report 1 − Stock-taking
The stock-taking report provides an inventory of all of the research that has been conducted to date in Europe and around the world, and describes the state-of-the-art in using mobile positioning data in research and applications in tourism statistics and related domains. The report emphasises existing problems and solutions in technology, methodology, regulations and other aspects of accessibility in terms of mobile positioning data. As such, it served as input for the subsequent tasks of the feasibility study.
- Report 2 - Feasibility of access
This report assesses the potential opportunities and obstacles in terms of gaining access to passive mobile positioning data from mobile network operators. The main focus is on access to the data in order to produce official tourism statistics for the NSIs, but other usages are also considered. The report concentrates on regulatory, business and technological barriers along with practical access to the data.
- Report 3a − Feasibility of use, methodological issues
Digging into a potential new data source raises a wide range of questions. This report identifies and describes methodological issues linked to the use of mobile positioning data for tourism statistics and, where possible, assesses their impact and discusses solutions. The methodological strengths and weaknesses (e.g. in terms of representativeness, definitions) are evaluated using the standard quality criteria for statistics. In addition to tourism statistics, the report provides an assessment of possible relevance of mobile positioning data for other fields of statistics.
- Report 3b − Feasibility of use, coherence
This report evaluates another aspect of the feasibility of use, namely the extent to which statistics based on mobile positioning data are coherent with statistics obtained via traditional sources. The report does not repeat the methodological issues described in Report 3a but rather quantifies the total impact of the methodology and makes a qualitative assessment of the reasons for deviations.
- Report 4 − Opportunities and benefits
This last report discusses the opportunities and benefits that using mobile positioning-based datasets can provide to different users of tourism statistics on vertical (international, national, regional and local) as well as horizontal (different fields of implementation) levels. It emphasizes the different perspectives of potential gains covering financial and implementation benefits. The assessment touches five different perspectives: quality, cost, access to new indicators, synergies, and transmission.
On 14 May 2014, a workshop was held at the CZSO in Prague to present the main outcomes of the project. The presentations are available from the workshop website.
Methodological work on Tourism Satellite Accounts in the European Union
In 2008-2009, Eurostat ran a project assessing the work done in the EU in the field of TSA and fostering the further implementation and harmonisation of TSA compilation. The key deliverables of the project are published in a set of 4 volumes in the Eurostat series "Methodologies and Working Papers".
- Volume 1 - Report on the implementation of TSA in 27 EU Member States
- Volume 2 - Comparison of methodology and empirical results
- Volume 3 - Practical Guide for the Compilation of a TSA: Directory of Good Practices
- Volume 4 - Possibilities to obtain more up-to-date TSA key figures
Methodological work on measuring the sustainable development of tourism
In May 2004, Eurostat commissioned Statistics Sweden to conduct a methodological study on the sustainable development of tourism, the environment being a factor that is increasingly influencing tourist demand. The result is presented in a report and a manual for a set of 20 core indicators for sustainable tourism, including detailed descriptions of each indicator. This core set forms a base of indicators that may be used both at national, regional and local levels in EU countries, and at Community level.