Innovating and improving tourism statistics. This is the aim of the collaboration between Istat and Vodafone Business Italia who have carried out a study on inbound (foreigners in Italy), outbound (Italians abroad) and domestic (Italians in Italy) tourism by integrating official statistics with data from mobile phones. The survey covered the Province of Rimini and the Municipality of Rome, two areas with a strong tourist vocation, between August 2019 and August 2020, allowing a comparison between tourist flows before and after the pandemic. Three case studies were developed: arrivals and nights spent of Italian and foreign tourists; same-day visits of Italian and foreign tourists; departures of Italians to foreign countries.
The technology used is Vodafone Analytics, which collects real-time data on mobile phone network activity, thus guaranteeing very precise temporal and spatial information, with algorithms developed to meet the requirements of official statistics, in full compliance with privacy regulations.
The use of data from the mobile network for the production of tourism statistics, already experimented at an international level, proves to be an added value to supplement and enrich Istat’s current tourism surveys, in particular for its ability to provide real time information and with high territorial detail.
In the perspective of a public-private partnership that improves regulated access to data, including mobile telephony for the production of official statistics, as envisaged by the so-called European data strategy, the tested collaboration between Istat and Vodafone Business Italia represents a significant precedent, which demonstrates how mobile data can enrich and complete the production of official statistics and provide in-depth insights into emerging phenomena only partially covered by traditional data sources.
The project is analysed in the article ‘Exploring mobile network data for tourism statistics: the collaboration between Istat and Vodafone Business Italia’ published in the Journal of Official Statistics no. 3/2022.