Statistics are like bikinis.......

One of the really great things about Jersey Tourism is the preponderance of statistics they make available online through their website. It’s great to be able to access all sorts of data on-line and usually the information is updated quickly and efficiently. For example June’s arrival figures are already up there – showing a healthy 3% increase overall & we should not have to wait too long to discover if this increase is matched by a rise in staying visitors.

June Arrivals

The figures also allow certain conclusions to be drawn. For example, 3756 passengers arrived from Heathrow in June. With 2 BMI flights a day and an average capacity of about 120 seats – that produces an average load factor of 52%. I wonder how happy BMI are with that figure after 3 months of operating the route? And are taxpayers seeing a return on the investment made into securing the route in the first place? We will never know because we have no idea of the size of the subsidy.

By contrast, let’s look at Luton – from where Thomsonfly started operating in May. The route provides one arrival a day, but has carried 2655 passengers. With a smaller aircraft, that’s a much more encouraging load factor of around 80%. I appreciate that there are big differences in fare levels. (I flew to Luton in May for just £40.00 return including tax), but if volume is a key requisite for tourism growth then I believe Thomsonfly should receive the bouquets. And I bet the route subsidy has cost a lot less.

Overall arrivals from London Airports are up by an impressive 12% so far this year, so that’s good news for everyone in the industry.

2006 Visitor Survey

Then there’s the latest Staying Leisure Visitor Survey – in short a very long questionnaire sent to visitors after they return home asking for their views on their stay in Jersey. At face value a good piece of work that provides useful trend analysis of visitors’ characteristics & their perceptions of Jersey.

And yet – whilst the survey tries to obtain a cross-section of visitors, there is no sampling by age range or socio-economic profiling. So if a higher proportion of questionnaires are returned by the 55+ age group this could give a very one-sided perception of the delivery of our tourist product. The survey does break down the findings by age group, but the sizes of the samples for younger age groups may be too small to be credible.

I know that First Research who produced the survey, have many years of experience in producing this report – the guys behind it used to manage the statistics unit at Jersey Tourism. The report is of extremely high quality – but in my view poses as many questions as it answers.

A US business professor, Aaron Levenstein got it about right when he said ‘Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.’ If we are going to base future investment decisions on today’s data, then we need to make sure that the numbers don’t lie.


Anonymous said...

"Statistics are like women; mirrors of purest virtue and truth, or like whores to use as one pleases". So said Theodor Billroth. A great surgeon.

Lets not worry too much about what the Liberation crew spin out. It no doubt has a huge error margin.

David Warr said...

Hi Robert
You're obviously making a big impression - a first surely on Jersey when your blog gets quoted in the JEP, Peter Body article!
Good work

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