As one of the most desirable destinations worldwide, Italy attracts millions of international travelers every year. These visitors contribute an amazing variety of experiences, creating a phenomenon of stunning complexity which makes Italy an ideal study case for anyone interested in the economic, social and cultural effects of tourism.
For a long time, official statistics have recorded the volumes and trends of these transient populations. But as new, high-resolution, data sources become available, we can now for the first time rigorously and accurately quantify the multitude of different ways in which they visit and explore the country. Using a combination of telecom and social media data, together with official statistics and a variety of other data sources, we are able to start peeling back the layers of complexity.
We can now give answers to questions such as:
But also: How do these patterns change with time, seasonally and in the long term? And how do they develop at the local level?
Beyond satisfying our scientific curiosity, hard facts can inform decision-making and disrupt the way we create policies and manage tourism at every level. The high granularity of the analysis means that it is equally possible to look at the country as a whole or zoom down to the level a city or even a landmark.
Telling the story of tourism in Italy as it happened is only the first step in the exploration made possible by combining new digital data with established sources. Our goal is not only to describe the dynamics of the transient populations, but understand them enough to discern subtle causal relations and trends, and reliably predict the evolution of their numbers and activities in the short and long term.
Credits: images and visualization by Tellart. Data from Twitter and Vodafone Italia.
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