Experimental statistics: Use of mobile operators data for tourism purposes, 2021 and 2022

Slovenia continues to be a tourist-transit destination

The use of big data from mobile operators opens up new possibilities for evaluating various social phenomena. Tourist flows are one of those. Below are some examples of basic statistics that can be extracted from this type of data.

  • 26 January 2023 at 10:30
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  • Experimental statistics
Tourist flows – monitoring with big data

Modern technology usage generates a huge amount of data that can be processed and based on them various social phenomena and trends can be evaluated. Mobile technology is also a source of big data that can be statistically processed and presented. 

Most people use mobile devices (phones) with different functionalities. While using mobile devices, data sessions are established between them and the operator. Based on the total duration of data sessions in Slovenia and abroad, we can roughly estimate the number of users of mobile devices who also travelled during the given period. We can estimate the number of Slovenian users who travelled abroad and foreign users who visited Slovenia, whether for several days (tourists) or just for one day (same-day visitors).

The summer of 2022 was the first tourism intensive period after the COVID-19 pandemic. As the month of July (in addition to August) is considered to be the peak of the summer season, basic tourism statistics extracted from the data of mobile operators are presented using the example of July 2022 (and its comparison with July 2021).

Most Slovenian mobile phone users travelled to Croatia

In July 2022, Slovenian users travelled to 140 countries as multi-day visitors (tourists) or as one-day visitors – as one-day tourist visitors, transit passengers or as daily work migrants.

Most, almost 700,000 different Slovenian users, travelled to Croatia. Over 100,000 of different Slovenian users also travelled to Italy (around 225,000) and Austria (around 187,000). A comparison of last year's July data with July 2021 shows that the number of Slovenian users who travelled increased in 2022. There were 21% more users who visited Croatia, 45% more who visited Italy and 31% more who visited Austria.

Almost half a million users (71% of all who travelled to Croatia in July) stayed in Croatia for several days (as multi-day visitors, tourists), on average 8 days. Much fewer multi-day visitors visited Italy and Austria. Italy was visited by around 63,000 users (28% of all who travelled to Italy in July), and Austria by around 58,000 users (31% of all who travelled to Austria in July).

Slovenian users most often travelled to neighbouring countries also as one-day visitors. Again in this case, the most often visited country was Croatia (around 930,000 one-day trips). Austria and Italy followed with more than half a million one-day trips (around 530,000 and around 505,000, respectively). More than 100,000 one-day trips by Slovenian users were also made to Germany (around 132,000).

The largest number of foreign mobile phone users in Slovenia came from Germany

In July 2022, users from 125 countries visited Slovenia. The most, more than 1.8 million different users, were from Germany (31% more than in July 2021), almost a million (about 975,000) from Austria (15% more than July 2021), about 890,000 from Italy (32% more than July 2021), around 600,000 from the Netherlands (48% more than July 2021) and 440,000 from Czechia (30% more than July 2021).

Slovenia is known as a (tourist) transit country. This fact is also confirmed by the statistics obtained with the help of mobile operators’ data. In all the countries mentioned above, transit passengers represented more than 80% of all users from a particular country. In the case of Germany, Austria and Italy, this share is higher than 90%, while in the case of the Netherlands and Czechia it is slightly lower.

The largest number of one-day visits in July 2022 (more than 2.5 million, 92% of which were transit trips) was thus contributed by one-day visitors from Germany. More than one million one-day visits were also contributed by users from Italy (around 1.8 million, 87% in transit), Austria (around 1.8 million, 82% in transit) and the Netherlands (around 1.7 million, 84% in transit).

German users also dominated as multi-day visitors. In July 2022, they were the only ones over 100,000 (around 116,000). However, multi-day visitors represented only 6% of all users who visited Slovenia from Germany. On average, they stayed in Slovenia for about five days during this period. They were followed by multi-day visitors from the Netherlands (80,000, eight days), Austria (63,000, five days), Czechia (51,000, four days) and Italy (40,000, five days).
Slovenian users of mobile telephony services by most frequently visited countries, Slovenia
Slovenian users of mobile telephony services by most frequently visited countries, Slovenia
The most numerous foreign users of mobile telephony services who visited Slovenia, by countries and types of users, July 2022
The most numerous foreign users of mobile telephony services who visited Slovenia, by countries and types of users, July 2022
Mobile telephony operators are Slovenian operators that provide public communication networks and/or public communication services in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia.

As there are many methodological and definitional inconsistencies between the surveys, statistics of mobile operators’ data, which in this case are cited as experimental statistics, and statistics of other official surveys on tourism statistics, cannot be compared directly.

As part of the mobile operators' statistics, an individual is defined as a user of a mobile device roaming in a foreign network during the trip. In order to be recognized as a "traveller", they must therefore have an active mobile device, which is not a requirement in the case of other surveys.

Mobile operators' statistics also do not contain other details about individuals' trips (e.g. the reasons for travel) on the basis of which the criteria whether an individual visit is actually a "tourist" visit or not is determined. It is highly possible that data on one-day visitors who travel between Slovenia and neighbouring countries included many of those that are otherwise not taken into account within tourism statistics (e.g. daily work migrants, truck drivers in transit, etc.).

The data are published as experimental because the survey is new and because the measuring instrument, the methodology of data collection and the indicators are still being developed. More information can be found in the methodological explanations.
When making use of the data and information of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, always add: "Source: SURS". More: Copyright.