Misled with tourism statistics?

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Two great quotes and a great cartoon found by The Big Picture:

“The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern…American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity.”
– Julius Barnes, head of Hoover’s National Business Survey Conference, March 16, 1930

“While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst — and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us.”
– Herbert Hoover, May 1, 1930

There are many market cheerleaders out there spinning recent poor economic data as less bad and the markets have happily followed along.  Hey, the economy is no longer crashing at a startling pace, that must be a sign of a recovery right?  We’ll certainly see…

In a breaking news piece on The Royal Gazette Premier Brown is quoted as suggesting that less bad tourism numbers are a good sign.

“Already, in just the first six months of 2009, we have seen a slowdown to the slowdown,” Dr. Brown said. “Visitor arrivals have improved pretty convincingly between the first quarter and the second quarter of this year. Visitor numbers were down 27.84 percent in the first quarter, but after the second quarter the 2009 year-to-date figure has improved to an 11.28 percent decrease when compared to the year prior.

“That is clearly a trend in the right direction. This trend is expected to improve even further in the third quarter.”

Well sure, it is really nice to say the 2009 Q2 figure has improved over the Q1 numbers while conveniently not mentioning that last year we also just happened to witness a near 12% drop in Q2 arrivals.  A question that arises is how spending performed as the hugely discounted promotions hotels have been offering to attract tourists likely boosted numbers while cut spending.  To be fair we should also be examining year over year performance for the last few years as opposed to just last year.

Let us put things into context.  Let’s take the very latest Caribbean Tourism Statistics (found via google as they’re not officially posted on their site yet) and normalize the gain and loss percentages of each country to 2003 levels (2003 = 100) so we can get an idea of how well we’ve performed.  For added interest we’ll even throw in Antigua & Barbuda statistics as they’ve already reported their full Q2 numbers.

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Notice how Bermuda has vastly underperformed the average Caribbean destination?  Oh, but don’t worry about that, we’ve improved upon the Q1 decline, that must be a sign of a recovery, right? 

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