PLP responsible for 27% DROP IN AIR ARRIVALS!!!

Have I got your attention?  No?

Did you know that during the period of 1998 through 2004 the PLP was responsible for a drop of $133 million in tourism revenue?

How about now?

Good, because according to numbers from the Caribbean Tourism Organization the above statements are accurate.  In 1997, the year before the PLP took power, air arrivals were 379,685.  In 2006, those numbers had dropped to 298,962, some 27% lower.  Visitor expenditure in 1998 was $486.8 million, in 2004 it was $353.7 million, a drop of $133 million.

Is it fair to blame the drop in air arrivals or visitor expenditure on the PLP?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Indeed they have been the governing body but they have also had to manage tourism through Hurricane Fabian, one of our worst, along with the fallout from the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York city.

Is it fair to over-sensationalize bad performance without the big picture?  No?  Well is it fair to over-sensationalize good performance without the big picture?  Statistics out of context can be twisted in many ways. 

Let’s take the recent tourism press release which the PLP youth blog picked up and sensationalized with the heading:

Press Release – Tourism Numbers SOAR!

Is it surprising that this was the reaction of the PLP youth wing?  Well when the numbers are presented like this:

 

Tourist Air Arrivals % increase/decrease:

 

Location JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH
BERMUDA +24.8% +12.6% +17.9%
Bahamas -5.8% -8.2% -2.1%
Barbados -3.3% -4.7% *
British Virgin Islands +1.9% +1.1% *
Cayman Islands +17.7% +11.8% +11.6%
Jamaica -0.7% -4.0% -1.7%
Montserrat -2.9% -17.6% -9.2%
St. Lucia -13.2% -14.0% -4.5%

Source: Caribbean Tourism Organization
* Not available 

How could one not be excited?  But what is the real story?  Well, if you check the source and change the selection of numbers, you can paint a very different picture.

Tourist Air Arrivals % increase/decrease:

Location JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL
BERMUDA +24.8% +12.6% +17.9% -3.9%
Cancun(Mexico) +105% +58.2% +40.3% +42.5%
Cozumel +236.9% -8.4% * *
British Virgin Islands +1.9% +1.1% * *
Cayman Islands +17.7% +11.8% +11.6% *

Source: Caribbean Tourism Organization
* Not available 

Are these numbers accurate?  Yes they are.  But do you note what is different from the above version?  Well, the -3.9% drop in April was conveniently left out to make the numbers look better.  Also note how most of the comparative numbers chosen were negative or less than Bermuda’s. 

Does it paint a fair picture?  Is it fair to over-sensationalize good or bad performance without the big picture?  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. 

 

— Update:

Fixed typo: “in 1994 it was $353.7 million” was supposed to be “in 2004 it was $353.7 million”

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