Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unravelling the tourism survey statistics

There seems to have been some delay and confusion around release of the latest National Visitor Survey from Tourism Australia. The results were somewhat mixed with some less than compelling numbers for Qld although TNQ was more promising: NVS not good news for Qld.

At a regional level there is better news. Not only are overnight trips up by 6% on the year, but the average stay in TNQ has also lengthened to 5.3 nights (up from just 4.9 nights 6 months earlier). On the downside, expenditure in the region was up just 1.3% from a year ago (which equates to a real decline with CPI running at 2.7%).
There has however been some selective colourful spin in the media releases such as from the Member for Cairns:
New figures released by Tourism Research Australia reported that around 1.6 million Australians visited the picturesque Tropical North Queensland in 2013, an increase of 6% on the year prior. This researched (sic) reported a 19% increase in domestic holidaymakers to the region, with the intrastate holiday market increasing 11%. The majority of visitors to the region were from Sydney, Brisbane or from within the Tropical North Queensland region.

Then there is the summary version from the Domestic Tourism Snapshot from TQ:

TNQ continued recent growth in domestic visitation with a 6.0%  increase over the year. Though interstate visitors decreased 2.0%, the growth was driven by a 10.7% increase in intrastate visitors which in itself was due to a 30.4% increase in visitors from within the TNQ region. Overall domestic expenditure increased slightly at 1%.  

The Townsville Bulletin is reporting some scepticism on the numbers for their city:  Operators query tourism spike.  I'm not really familiar with this survey over time but suspect there may be a good margin for error around some of these component numbers? Interstate visitors to Queensland were down 21.8% on the December quarter 2012 which seems quite dramatic.

I'm unsure where the relevant regional components are located in the TA Excel sheets but that 19% (18.9%) increase in domestic holidaymakers, which makes up more than 60% of total domestic visitors, would appear to imply very weak numbers in other sectors with total visitation increase at 6%?

Meanwhile this week the ABS also released international arrivals and departures stats with perhaps some recovery evident in the recent Chinese weakness. However an update of last months graph on which state departing visitors had spent most time is still not positive for Qld with another new low.

Warning: This is raw data where there is an obvious seasonal pattern.

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