International tourism

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The Bank of Italy has been conducting since 1996 a survey on international tourism, based on interviews and counting of resident and non-resident travellers at the Italian borders (road and rail crossings, international ports and airports). In order to estimate the number of the international travellers, information collected through the survey are integrated with administrative data and, since the end of 2020, with mobile phone data.

The survey is conducted with the primary objective of compiling the 'Travel' item (which includes goods and services purchased by individuals in countries where they are not residents, in relation to travels in those countries) and the 'International passenger transport' item of the Italian Balance of payments, in line with the methodological conventions established by the IMF - Balance of Payments and International Investments Position Manual (6th Edition).

The surveys represents also a useful database for researchers and sectoral operators, thanks to the wide range of analytical data, which are available both in the form of monthly updates and at the micro level. A yearly report on the main results of the survey is available in the section Report of this page.

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On April 23, 2024 the microdata relating to the year 2023 were released; the document 'Survey on international tourism', of the 'Statistics' series of Bank of Italy, containing an analysis of the main results of the sample survey, will be published later. In the Balance of Payments disseminated in the Statistical Database, the latest version of international tourism data will be published in the revision scheduled for the end of June 2024.

In a constantly evolving scenario, even more after the covid-19 pandemic, the search for innovative information sources capable of improving tourism statistics is becoming increasingly important. In this regard, please see the paper 'How can Big Data improve the quality of tourism statistics' (see, in this page, Analysis and methodology).

With reference to methodological innovations, the work 'Unbundling Package Tours: a Machine Learning Application with the LASSO' describes the techniques used to estimate the cost of the services that make up a tourist package (see, in this page, Analysis and methodology).

Analysis and methodology

Tourism represents an important sector of the Italian economy, with a strong potential in terms of growth and employment as well as social and cultural integration. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have made the relevance of this sector and the availability of accurate statistical sources, coming from reliable sources, particularly evident. In this context, the search for data sources that are more timely and cheaper than traditional sample surveys is becoming increasingly important. The paper 'How can Big Data improve the quality of tourism statistics?' examines the contribution that mobile phone data, electronic payments and internet searches (Google Trends) can make to the compilation of the 'travel' item of the balance of payments.

In addition to the search for innovative sources, the study of new methodologies to improve tourism estimates is ongoing. The work 'Unbundling Package Tours: a Machine Learning Application with the LASSO' describes a machine learning algorithm based on LASSO techniques to impute the components of tourist packages.