Meet the UNWTO Affiliate Members at the General Assembly

Erki Saluveer is the CEO of Positium. The Estonian company joined the UNWTO Affiliate Members network ahead of the 23rd General Assembly. He spoke with UN Tourism News at the UNWTO General Assembly in St Petersburg, Russian Federation.

What does Positium do?

We analyse anonymous mobile positioning data (from mobile phones) to produce insights into how many tourists visit a specific country or other destination. This data can also be used to provide insights into the movements of tourists. The tools we produce are used in a number of areas, including tourism marketing, academic research and to produce official statistics for national and local tourism agencies.
Positium has been working with mobile network operators since 2006, making us the longest-running big mobile data project in the world. We’re also currently the only company in the world that produces official statistics based on mobile positioning data.

What are the benefits of this?

For a long time now, tourism planners and even official government departments have relied on surveys for data. Mobile positioning data provides far more useful information, and more precise information. It can allow destinations to measure the impact of major events – do participants just visit for that event or do they use it as an opportunity to travel more widely? We’ve helped analyse the tourism impact of the World Bank Meeting in Bali and of the recent Asian Games, for example.

Why did you apply to become an UNWTO Affiliate Member?

We’re already a consultant for the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), as well as the International Telecommuncitaions Union (ITU), the European Commission and the OECD. Joining UNWTO was a natural step for us, therefore. Being part of the Affiliate Members network gives us the chance to share our expertise with fellow members from around the world, helping them analyse and manage their tourists.