Business or Pleasure?

 

Visitor
a person who visits, as for reasons of friendship, business, duty, travel, or the like.  
Arrivals
One that arrives or has arrived.

Tourist
One who travels for pleasure.

 

First quarter tourism statisistics review

So, a visitor is any person who visits, an arrival is any person who arrives but a tourist is someone who travels only for pleasure?  Ok, lets use these definitions as we review the first quarter tourism statistics:

I have been pleased to announce month by month, increased visitor arrivals during a period that traditionally had all sorts of adjectives to describe it and none of them were positive. Today is no different and I am proud to say that if the first quarter of this year is a sign of things to come, 2007 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for Tourism arrivals.

Wait.  If they’re visitor arrivals, do those numbers include business travellers here for international business purposes?

January arrivals up 24.71%
February arrivals up 9.01%
March arrivals up 32.25%

Wait.  Again, I’m confused.  Do arrivals count for all who arrived on a plane, including Bermudians?   How many were Bermudians and how many were not?  Who was travelling for business and who was travelling for pleasure?  Does this include residents who leave the island due to the cheap fares of the new discount airlines?

Total visitor arrivals for the first three months of the year have all resulted in increases, with a total quarterly increase of 23.47% over the same period in 2006. This increase of more than 9,000 visitors marks the fourth consecutive quarter of growth for the island and the highest first quarter visitor arrival statistic since 2000.

There are those words again…  Visitor?  Is a visitor a tourist or is a visitor anyone who comes to the island?

Ladies and gentlemen, the numbers speak for themselves!

Actually, they’re horribly ambigous and are misleading without a proper breakdown, which was not provided.

This comes at a time when, according to the CHA Weekly News, “The US State Department says it is cranking out U.S. passports in historically high numbers to meet an unprecedented surge in demand caused by tough
new immigration rules.” There was initial concern that the new rules would affect our first quarter
results; however the results underscore the growing demand for the Bermuda product in the
marketplace.

Where is this quote as google turned up nothing?

 

What the industry is saying

This when Fodor’s suggests ‘Need a U.S. Passport? Expect Delays’.  Does this means increased demand and limited supply?  What was it like when Bermudians needed their passports stamped?  Then there is United States Senator Norm Coleman who is “[pressing] the State Department for quick action to address the massive passport application backlog”.  “[Which] is primarily a result of passport applications that have increased by over 40% from the same time period last year”

 

What do the numbers say?

MarketWatch reports:

“About 1.1 million travelers applied for a passport in November, a 60% rise from the same month a year earlier, Royster said. In fiscal year 2006, more than 12 million people applied for passports, compared with about 10 million a year earlier.”

Wait a second.  Didn’t I write about a potential tourism crisis looming on the horizon?  Let’s do a quick flashback.

According to an August edition of the New York Times, only 27% of Americans are believed to have passports.

Well, if Wikipedia is accuate, the 2007 population estimate for the United States is 301,566,000 people.  So 27% of that is some 81,422,800 and lets add another 6 million to account for the other half of 2006, so approx 87.5 million people.  Let’s assume there is even a 50% increase in passport applications for the year, thats still only 18 million total processed in the year.  Which only adds up to at most 105.5 million people of 301.5 million, some 35%.  That doesn’t even assume renewals.

Also, it was suggested by Brian Major, spokesman for the Cruise Lines International Association that last year, 20 percent to 30 percent of cruise passengers used passports as documentation, with the rest using birth certificates or driver’s licenses.

Is it presumptious to assume that tourism hasn’t been impacted when the cruise season hasn’t begun?  If only 35% of people actually get around to having passports, how many will opt for a local vacation instead of the hassle.  Especially if there are delays and frustrations as outlined by Fodors and Marketwatch?

 

The real numbers

The real question is how many $$$ were spent in Bermuda.  Visitors matter nothing if they arn’t leaving their money here, unless you just like the joy of entertaining.  We’re told that the numbers speak for themselves.  Well here are the numbers according to the number of times the following words appear in the first quarter statistics.

 

Arrival: Occurs 19 times

Visitor: Occurs 16 times

Tourist: Occurs 0 times.

 

Remember those definitions above?

 

I’ll belive it’s been a banner quarter when you can tell me in statistics that include non-bermudian, bermudian, resident, non-resident, business, pleasure and hopefully how much is approximated to have been contributed to the economy by each group.  Until then, these numbers mean nothing to me.

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10 thoughts on “Business or Pleasure?

  1. I expect the Government to try to spin the figures, but it was sloppy journalism on the Gazette’s part to use the words visitor, arrival and tourist as synonyms. They should know better.

  2. Over to you mainstream media

    Denis Pitcher over at 21 Square follows up on my post of last night with his own take on the misinformation at the core of the latest “tourism” statistics. Money quote: We’re told that the numbers speak for themselves. Well…

  3. Excellent observations Denis. Quite ironic really when considering the remarks made in yesterday’s Royal Gazette by Jim Howes regarding his work with the Premier:
    He’s always willing to listen to new proposals and didn’t want a ‘yes man’ to tell him what he wanted to hear. He’s very much a go-getter. And he likes to see a proactive approach. He’s certainly been very enthusiastic as far as using his contacts at a high level to help cultivate relationships with airline CEOs to bring in more airlines.
    He’s the type of person who respects facts and figures. You have to do your homework and do your research. He can quickly punch holes in an argument if it is not well thought out and supported by facts. I like that.

    If only he would be more forthcoming with those same facts and figures !

  4. How come I don´t remember anyone asking these probing questions when tourist/visitor arrivals numbers were down? Could it have been that those questions would have given the government of the day a softer cushion to land on with the woeful numbers of the past? So why do we now here of these questions now? Numbers are numbers! The man, Dr. Ewart Brown, is doing something right. Give him credit where credit is due!
    Should we next look to hear questions from you all about whether or not we really have reduced airfares to and from the island? Constructive critism is good, even wanted by most people. But be fair, you must always be fair!!

  5. Just My Opinion,
    “How come I don´t remember anyone asking these probing questions when tourist/visitor arrivals numbers were down? Could it have been that those questions would have given the government of the day a softer cushion to land on with the woeful numbers of the past?”
    I’ve been asking these questions for years and happen to only now have a blog where I can ask them more publically.
    Simply because I was too young to ask questions when the UBP was in power is no justification for why I should not now.
    Was was right for those of Dr. Brown’s generation to ask questions about segregation if questions wern’t asked in the preceeding years?
    I have little doubt that the questions were indeed asked in both cases. However, it was a question of who heard them and subsequently were able to take action to make a difference. Otherwise, we would still be held back living oppressed because to every question the response would be: you didn’t ask about being oppressed before so why should you be allowed to ask now?
    “The man, Dr. Ewart Brown, is doing something right. Give him credit where credit is due!”
    I am sorry that in some cases I agree with you and in others I respectfully disagree with you. I do my best to give credit when credit is due however in this case, I disagree and stick by my opinion. Very simple: Does visitor = tourist or not. Why is that an unfair question?
    “Should we next look to hear questions from you all about whether or not we really have reduced airfares to and from the island? ”
    A great question, though you are a bit off in it’s direction. It is not whether or not we have reduced airfares, it is the question of what we have paid in guarantees to reduce airfares. Answer for me that question if you would be so kind?
    Beyond that, is it right that we attempt to compete on the discount tourism level when clearly we are not a discount destination and really should never try to be?

  6. Why didn’t people ask these questions before? Simple.
    Back in the day the Minister used to report monthly tourist numbers in detail, not quarterly arrivals without the specifics.

  7. Denis Pitcher/Big up,
    Tourism has always been a pet project of mine. It was when I was in the hospitality industry and continues now that I am not.
    I seem to remember that the reports were given monthly as well. And they have changed that, but numbers are numbers. You can still see the detailed breakdown in the government statistics books.
    Does every arriving visitor = a paying tourist? No, of course not. But an increase in visitor numbers, in general, can be seen as, and is, an improvement for the island. Especially when you are comparing the like data year in and year out. I guess you are suggesting that perhaps the increase in numbers may be due to an increase in Bermudians travelling due to lower airfares. Well that may be true, but if you look at the source, government statistal pages, that I mentioned above you will see the detailed breakdown. I myself take a look at them periodically and I will do so in this instance as well. To break down the general numbers a bit, an increase in business and tourist travellers is a positive to the island for they have a direct positive financial impact to the island. An increase in locals travelling at the very least means that our economy may be prospering, Customs income will most likely increase, people may be a little less stressed, etc. One of the down sides is that local retailers will have lost these potential customers, but that is another story. So anyway you look at the number increases, they are good for Bermuda. Is my reasoning too simplistic?
    I also too agree that Dr. Brown’s accomplishments and agenda have good points and bad points, successes and failures. But at least, in my opinion, he is having more successes than failures. I do have some problems with the way he does go about the business of his office but they are outweighed by the fact that at least he is DOING something! So many other former Bermuda leaders would have appointed a task force, a committee, or commission an expensive report. And yet still not actually DO anything at all. At least this Premier is actually accomplishing some tasks. No they may not all succeed but at least he seems to do his homework, get the proper research done, and then put the plan into action. We’ve had too many years of just talk, this country needs action. We have too many problems to deal with! Action is needed, not more talk!
    I seem to remember an article about what Bermuda has paid out in incentives and guarantees to airlines. Perhaps you should give it a read. http://www.theroyalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?sectionId=60&articleId=7d6b893300300a3
    Mr. Pitcher when you mentioned “discounted tourism”, you sounded a lot like the Hon. Jim Woolridge when he was tourism minister for the UBP. He had a saying that Bermuda was not a destination for tourists who wanted to buy hot dogs and tshirts, we were more upscale than that. While this may or may not be true, we can now see the results and history of a tourism ministry run by that sort of thinking. It was that sort of thinking that helped with the decline in Bermuda’s tourism so many years ago. Should we repeat that era? I don’t think so!
    I love my country and I think it is the most beautiful place on earth and I consider it the best place to live in the world. I have travelled a fair amount, I have just recently returned, Friday, from almost a month in Spain. I enjoyed my trip and all the cities I visited as I enjoyed Germany, France, Italy, US, Canada, and countless islands to the south of us. But I still feel that Bermuda is just the best place of all, even with our problems. In comparison our problems are negligible to some countries.
    We need to get tourists here in greater numbers so that they too can fall in love with my home. Now we still have a lot of work to do to get our product back to where it was 25-30 years ago (another subject entirely) but we need to start somewhere. So if we must start on the “discount tourism” level then so be it. Hey the only way is up right? And there is still enough of old Bermuda charm to win the hearts of these “discounters” as you call them to convince them, and their children, to continue visiting Bermuda throughout years to come. There by capturing another generation of tourists for our shores.
    If you recall or perhaps someone can tell you a story about it. There used to be people who visited Bermuda 20 and 30 times. They did so because they loved our island. But most of that generation, I would dare to say, got a taste of Bermuda during college weeks stays here. When they and their friends spent the week here, 3 and 4 to a hotel room, and had a ball. They returned to Bermuda to get married and continue their relationship with the island. And yet again returned to show their offspring Bermuda and pass the love on to the next generation.
    So perhaps this “discount tourism” of today is our college weeks of the past. We have to start somewhere! Tourism has shown an improvement, you cannot get around that fact. Why does it seem like there are people who want to distort that fact? I don’t care who would have done it: PLP, UBP, XYZ! It doesn’t matter, it just needed to be turned around and it surely seems like there is evidence it has. So how about this, perhaps we, the general public, look and contribute to helping the present government continue the turnaround and not hinder the process. Tourism is needed in this island, period. Without it I believe we would fall very quickly from our cushy perch. The goose would certainly stop laying those golden eggs we treasure. If tourism ceased in this island, International Business wouldn’t be that far behind! And then where would we be?

  8. Big up,
    “Back in the day the Minister used to report monthly tourist numbers in detail, not quarterly arrivals without the specifics.”
    Can you direct me as to where such information was reported and when you mean by “back in the day”?
    I’ve had the opportunity to check both the 1987 and 1997 digest’s of statistics and both referred to “Visitors” and not “Tourists”.

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