Is Government Lying About Barbados Tourism Statistics?

The following article is written by Adrian Loveridge, who asks questions about the tourism statistics being tossed about by an election-ready government. Adrian had nothing to do with the title of this piece “Is Government Lying About Barbados Tourism Statistics?” – that’s what we came up with after pondering the questions put forth by Mr. Loveridge.

Take it away, Adrian…

I’m puzzled, really puzzled!

Under a CBC TV headline ‘Williams says robust growth in tourism’, Central Bank Governor, Dr Marion Williams reported a 4.4 per cent expansion in the Barbadian economy for the first nine months of the year ‘fuelled largely by robust growth in tourism’.

This follows an article that appeared in the Barbados Advocate, Wednesday 24th October 2007, quoting figures which the newspaper stated had been supplied by the Barbados Statistical Service and referring to a ‘whopping 18 per cent increase’ in visitor arrivals for the first seven months of this year.

I have made repeated applications to the BBS to obtain these figures but despite acknowledgments of my request, have still not received them.

Log-on to the BBS website and you will see that even after hosting ‘the World’s third largest sporting event’ that we finished the first four months of 2007 (our peak period) with a net gain of just 44 long stay visitors.

So according to the Advocate and the Central Bank this ‘robust growth’ been in the traditional soft summer months.

Yes! There was crop over, but if you look at the stated figures, both arrivals from Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of CariCom were substantially down.

Dr Williams dismisses the 140% increase in airport departure tax as having any major effect on the dramatic fall in intra-Caribbean travel, and instead cites the historically highest ever regional airfares.

In reality, I believe it’s a combination of both.

And if long stay visitor arrival numbers were really doing so well, why would our national marketing agency, the Barbados Tourism Authority, increase the taxpayer subsidy on Best of Barbados packages from US$200 to US$300?

With the complimentary hotel night stays and daily breakfast, there is in fact, little or no national revenue gain for this programme.

You also only have to check with some of our larger hotels to discover that many staff have been working reduced hours and/or days per week.

Please, don’t anyone take my word for it, but I hope the BFP and BU readers who work in the tourism industry will report from their perspective.

Adrian Loveridge
1st November 2007

34 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business, Traveling and Tourism

34 responses to “Is Government Lying About Barbados Tourism Statistics?

  1. peltdownman

    It might be useful to compare it with foreign exchange earnings/expenditure.

  2. Anonymous

    fact.
    when the destiny was being used as a dormitory
    -think cricket world cup april 2007-
    those coming ashore per morning
    -ea. and every morning-
    were counted as ‘new’ visitor arrivals…
    over and over and over again!

    no wonder we have such magnificent visitor arrival numbers. its all trix trix trix
    but eff de TV seh so it got to be so
    coz dum wunt lie to us ohNO!

  3. anon

    How come Adrian Loveridge gets to have a letter to BFP included for people to comment on. Is Adrian behind the establishment of BFP?

    ***************************

    BFP Replies…

    So… based on that theory if I am commenting upon your comment, does that mean that you are behind BFP? 😉

    Adrian must be pretty busy these days, because I see his letter is also printed in Barbados Underground. Hmmmmm…. maybe he runs both blogs?

    The true answer is that Adrian wouldn’t even know who we were if we sat down beside him. We print articles from a number of folks and we’d be happy to print a letter from you too!

  4. Anonymous

    and if anon would submit something similar, of merit, with decent syntax, proper spelling, punctuation and other admirable facets of the communicable english language, he/she too might have it published by BFP!
    try it,anon, if you have it in you. do you have anything other than three line comments to contribute? seriously, think up something worthwhile presenting to the public and submit it. you know the email address.
    looking forward to your submission, your dissertation on…. for example.. what effect -if any- yesterday’s lowering of interest rates by 25 basis points by the u.s.federal reserve
    -will it have any impact on the sub-rime real estate market in the u.s. and therefore by extension in the u.k. and/or here in bdos. something telling like that.
    you have it in you i just know it.
    shine. let us see your light.
    adrian loveridge has light. where is yours?

  5. The truth of the matter is that the Governor of the Central Bank has always been used by the Prime Ministers as a political football to be kicked around at will.
    Many would remember Mr Courtney Blackman’s famous comment something to the effect that he says and does whatever Tom Adams wants him to say or do, if you understand that this is the way that the bank functions therefore there can be little doubt about their willingness to slant the outlook to enhance the ruling parties status.
    As for the Tourism arrival figures trust me should one review the numbers up to world cup and realise we had a nett gain of what 44 people or crazy figure such as this even after their nonsense of double and tripling counting visitor arrivals off of the cruise lines than were here for CWC if after their valiant effort to distort the figures the nett gain was 44 persons the real news is that our Tourism industry had failed very badly this year and it has not performed at all but if after all of these antics and our numbers are as poor as they are then were in heavens name has this sudden excessive growth arrived from?
    It certainly is not from CARICOM visitors arrival as Owing and Lynch killed them with their manhandling of the LIAT takeover deal with the move of tripling airfares during the usually busy CARICOM summer season.
    In conclusion there is no way that any sensible thinking Barbadian can or will accept these figures as real and honest numbers because they do not exist, this is the biggest load of crap every attempted to be fed to thinking taxpayers and they should be refused to be accepted and the citzens need to make them ammend them and to come honestly to the public. (now I know honesty is not a trait normally associated with the blp so we will have another problem, that is where do we go to get this honesty?)
    anon maybe because he submits clear sensible letters that contain real and sensible questions.
    Just think if we had him running tourism instead of that idiot Lynch what hopes we would have for our main industry.
    Instead he has it hurting and doodling, I am glad for his sake that CUBA has not yet opened up because I am not sure what he would say or do with them as a player in this market!!!!!

  6. anon

    BFP

    We all know that the person(s) who run this blog have a political agenda.

  7. anon

    BFP

    We all know that person(s) running this blog have a political agenda. I challenge you to deny this

  8. anon

    BFP

    We all know that person(s) running this blog have a political agenda. Try and deny this

  9. anon

    BFP

    I sent my message three times as the first and second did not go through. There must be something woring with your system!!!

    ****************************

    BFP replies…

    Sorry our service is not up the high standards you expect. As to our political agenda, yes, we have one…

    To stop the political corruption and tribal politics that are killing our nation.

  10. John

    …. the fault, dear Brutus lies not in our stars …..

    …. or something like that!!

  11. Bush Tea

    It is quite obvious that the Barbadian Authorities have not yet awoken to the realities of the 21st century. The days of bringing on the ‘governor’ at the right time to make some statement that is supposed to be true ‘because it comes from the central bank’ have long gone by us.

    once upon a time, with only the two trash papers to inform bajans, and with both these equally malleable by government officials we were at their mercy.

    nowadays, this approach only make these ‘big-ups’ look foolish.

    I would have thought by now, that they would realise that the best tactic is to try being honest with the public,….but maybe old habits die slowly…

  12. Comehere

    It is only a matter of time before Barbados’ one and only true natural resource—tourism—becomes a footnote in the history books. My unscientific assessment of the typical tourist demographic these days is one of well-to-do Brits who stay at holiday villas, condos, or private houses. The payment for these accommodations are typically paid offshore; the local jobs created, ie, staff, are nominal when compared to a hotel; and the houses normally source food from a wholesale food distributor. In truth, the investment required to to establish a for-lease holiday home is a fraction of the yearly infrastructure costs of even a small hotel. Ergo, the condo boom! So in essence, these tourism numbers are meaningless without supporting evidence of the average spend per head ON THE ISLAND—not off. Bajan big up politicians all dressed up and no where to go. Play acting, Mr. Speaker, with the poor Bajan’s tax money insisting that all is well. It is not how much you make, it is how much you keep!
    Being retired, it matters little to me to see the road construction cost TRIPLE, the BTA spending millions courting an American market that will never come because of the price gouging perception of Barbados, or the insane tax levies on food which cannot be produced nationally. I enjoy only the GOOD of Barbados, while the poor folk carry the burden of the BAD on their already fragile backs. And so do the “tourists.”

  13. Fred

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    It confuses me that our Tourism Industry could be doing so well when we are seeing closure of so much of the plant in Barbados.
    We are now seeing the demise of yet another hotel along the West Coast this one being SANDRIDGE HOTEL owned by Arthurs good friend Mr Bernie Weatherhead, this hotel has recently been sold to the owners of St.Peters Bay being built right next door, now my question is will the new owners maintain this property as a hotel (which they should do) or will they apply to Arthur for a change of use and then extend the Condo property to encompass the SANDRIDGE HOTEL PROPERTY?
    As we drive along the West Coast nearly every open piece of land has been converted to Condo blocks and a number of Hotels being converted to Condos, where is the study that Lynch referred to that they were awaiting?
    They are yet to see or hear the report but yet Lynch goes ahead and allows a private sector agency to built Condos on prime beach front property at Dover, somewhere that is very much more suitable for a beachfront hotel than a Condo block.

  14. Anonymous

    Barbados is for sale! lock stock and barrel, gully and flat lands, these hills and fields that we were led to believe were “ours”
    going going gone ..right back where it come frum – UK!
    —————————–

    CBC-TV has been used for disinformation/’spin’ yet again.
    See it on TV? believe it – every word of it. The average joe blow without computer/internet/Bdos Free Press sucks it all in and believes it,every single word of it. after all, he saw it on TV and that’s final!
    You skeptics just don’t understand, do you?!

  15. Peter

    I work at a west coast fine dining restaurant and everyone is working their normal hours. The restaurant has 80 guests on average each night and is doing well. So Mr. Loveridge, I don’t know where you are getting your facts from.

  16. Adrian Loveridge

    Peter,

    my comments are based on personal conversations with a number of accommodation providers, attraction and activity operators, restaurants, taxi drivers and car rental agencies.

    Only today I was at the Flower Forest, Orchid World and Naniki Restaurant.

    I am sincerely pleased that your restaurant is doing well.
    It must be all those occupied condominiums.

    I also heard about the rumoured sale of Sandridge Hotel today.

    If it is true, then that will make a total of 27 closed hotels over the last 13 years.

    Peter, what other Caribbean Government can boast that fact?

  17. Adrian Loveridge

    Barbados Free Press posed a simple question…

    ‘Is Government lying about tourism statistics?’

    After NINE days and two acknowledged responses to my request to obtain confirmation of the figures supplied to the Barbados Advocate and published in their 24th October 2007 issue, I have been UNABLE to get the Barbados Statistical Service to confirm the stated 18.2% growth in long stay visitors for the first nine months of 2007.

    Thanks to the work done by Pat Hoyos at the Broad Street Journal (see online), it now appears that this growth was actually 2% NOT 18.2%.

    While Pat highlights the visitor spend increase, this figure is absolutely meaningless UNLESS it is inflation adjusted.

    If it has NOT been, then in FACT, visitor spending is DOWN, not up.

  18. Crusty

    I visited the Barbados Statistical Service website at /www.barstats.gov.bb then clicked on the Publications link at the top centre of the page. On the subsequent page there is a search function on the left side and I entered “visitor arrivals”, followed by selecting 10 rows per page.

    The resulting search displayed 10 items with a “next” button at the bottom for the rest of the list.

    At position 18 in the second 10 items, there is an ” * * Untitled Document * * ” entry with description stating “- 1 – COMPARISON OF TOURIST ARRIVALS BY COUNTRY OF RESIDENCEJUNE 2006 AND 2007 Stay- over visitor arrivals for June 2007 numbered 42,044 representing an increase of 3,336 or 8.6% when compared to June…”.

    I selected that item 18 and downloaded the offered PDF text file “arrvjun07.pdf”. This document consists of 3 pages, with the first page containing data relating to the months of June 2006 and June 2007. The second page contains data relating to the months of January to June 2006 and January to June 2007.

    Here is the first few lines on that second page:

    —- Begin Quote —-

    JANUARY TO JUNE 2006 AND 2007

    Stay-over visitor arrivals for the period January to June 2007 were 295,742. This represented an increase of 7,794 or 2.7% when compared to the corresponding period in 2006. The Germany and Other Caricom markets had the highest decreases of 32.0% and 25.9% respectively.

    Cruise passenger arrivals were 326,347. This represented an increase of 39,315 or 13.7% when compared to the corresponding period in 2006.

    —- End of Quote —-

    No where in the document is the figure 18.2 % displayed. There is an figure 18.4 % for UK arrivals in the month of June 2007 compared to June 2006. If this is the figure being used then it might be that it is being mis-construed as representing the entire arrivals picture when it refers to just a third of the arrivals.

    There is no statement in the notes about adjustments of the data so we are lead to believe they are raw numbers without statistical corrections of any kind (including inflation).

    This document is one in a series that appear to be published on a monthly basis and there is a small titling error on both pages 1 and 2 where the month has not been changed from May to June in the titles for the cruise ship arrivals data. The tabled data appear to be correct.

    I have saved a copy of the document and can make it available should it disappear from the Statistical Service website for some reason.

  19. Adrian Loveridge

    Thanks Crusty…

    I am still bemused WHERE the Advocate got their information.
    They stated (24th October) ‘The BBS said that the long stay during the review months increased by 61,946 or 18.2 per cent when compared to the corresponding year for 2006’.

    The stated ‘review period’ was the first 7 months of 2007.

    According to the BBS own website (as you highlighted) for the January – June period (6 months) longstay increased by just 2.7%.

    I also found very interesting that Cruise passenger arrivals increased by 13.7% for the same period but LANDED PASSENGERS only increased by 5.5%.

    I wonder which figure the Minister gives out?

    I assume that unless they LAND, they do not spend any money on the island?

    Anyway, between us we seem to have now established that there was a 2% increase in long stay visitors over the first NINE months of 2007.

    Hopefully the Advocate will print this as well.

  20. Anonymous

    Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics?

  21. John

    …. Anonymous, thank goodness there are statistics to debunk the lies, … and damned lies.

  22. Has anyone consider the impact that the cruise liners may have made to bulking up the tourism arrival figures with their recycling of the same guest during the cricket world cup period by as many as three visits in one week ?
    How were these people counted ?
    These surely cannot be triple counted but knowing Lynch as I do there is every chance that he has done so and it is distorting the real figures my humble opinion is that the real cruise line business has declined and the numbers are maybe 3/4 ‘s of what they have stated.

  23. Anonymous

    “How were these people counted ?
    These surely cannot be triple counted”

    How were they counted? maybe every single time they came ashore? after breakfast? after a quick lunch? Dinner?
    Surely they can’t be triple counted? Why not??
    There you go again, thinking logically. Hello-o-o!

  24. Wishing in Vain

    Clearly for me the blp and arthur are devoid of new ideas and thoughts.
    Let us look as recent as this last weekend where Mr Thompson makes a speech on Saturday night and arthur comes along on Sunday and says exactly what Mr Thompson said the night before this to me was so poor and lacking that it really revealed the extent of this party’s tiredness and reinforced my earlier belief that they need to retire sooner rather than later.
    While on the subject it is my belief that one from within the inner circle of arthur’s cabinet with an indepth knowledge of what he had intended to say in his speech on Sunday and leaked it to Mr Thompson for his early release, what a master shot!!!
    Now we ask the question which one of arthur’s haters would have sold him out in this manner?
    There are many possible candidates, his new wife, Rommel Marshall,Mottley, Lashley, Prescod,Payne, Liz Thompson,Edghill the list is long and it is involved but if I were a gambler I would put my money safely on Mottley as the source of the leak because of her bitterness towards arthur, and his demise of her and finally the last insult the putting ASSCOLL ahead of her in the pecking order .
    Who ever did the deed it was well delivered and well done by Mr Thompson.

  25. Wishing in Vain

    I also heard about the rumored sale of Sandridge Hotel today.

    If it is true, then that will make a total of 27 closed hotels over the last 13 years.
    Adrian I too have been asking questions as to if this sale is true or not and the feed back that I am getting is that it is correct that it has sold to Bejerkham and his group.
    Now why have we not heard a single word from Lynch if this is the case, after all he is supposedly to be the Minister responsible for Tourism and its infrastructure and when hotels continue to shut down as is the case here then does it not then hamper the earning capacity of the overall industry?
    I think that the Minister has a duty to perform and that is to explain how our hotel plant and our island is benefitting from the closure of so many hotels and for them to be converted to fewer condos, because trust me whenever the contruction begins on the Sandridge property the number of rooms will be greatly reduced from what it is at present.

  26. Waterboy

    With respect to “long stay” visitor arrivals. I wonder if “long stay” = visitors who arrive via air at GAIA.

    One wonders whether those passengers who arrive by air to be transported directly to cruise ships are counted in the “long stay” statistics. Of course, this is only important if their numbers are significant.

  27. Adrian Loveridge

    Waterboy…

    I think you have raised a very good question.
    To me the answer has never been made to my satisfaction.

    Homeport cruise ship passengers are counted twice.
    First as an arrival by air (landing card), as they are first staying in a hotel/villa etc.
    And then counted second time in the manifest numbers of the cruise ship they join.

    I do not know if they are counted a third time if they overnight at a hotel when the ship returns to Barbados.

    Below is how the BBS describes the figures for cruise ship passengers:

    1) Arrivals – number of cruise ship passenger arrivals who did not permanently disembark in Barbados.
    For the period Jan-June 2007 there were 326,347 persons, a increase of 13.7% over the same period in 2006.

    2) Landed Passengers – number of ship cruise passengers who permanently disembarked in Barbados – this includes direct-transits or transfer passengers, tourists and Barbadian residents.
    For the period Jan-June there were 68,681 persons, an increase of 5.5% over the same period in 2006.

    While the BBS has indicated these figures are for the period January-June 2006 and 2007, they confuse the issue a little by showing above the details – Cruise Passengers for Jan-May 2006 and 2007.

    I honestely find the BBS website all over the place. It does NOT list arrival figures in dare order and several of the reports are not clearly identified by a heading.
    Also it is now NINE days since I requested information and they have NOT sent it.

    I really do not think this is inline with their mission statement.

    http://www.barstats.gov.bb

  28. Anonymous

    One wonders whether those passengers who arrive by air to be transported directly to cruise ships are counted in the “long stay” statistics.
    Of course, this is only important if their numbers are significant.
    ———-
    whether the numbers are significant or not, like the old lady who peed in the sea said -every little drop helps. of course they are counted as long stay visitors. they arrived at gaia didnt they? thats all thats necessary. this govt is desperate to make up big numbers to make things look good, why do you guys find it so difficult to believe this sort of skullduggery goes on routinely? this is govt fellas this is politrix get used to this new world order. its called anything goes in order to achieve the desired end.not dificult. you just need to lose the morals and do what needs to be done.how dificult is that? for you,very. for them,very easy.
    so..how is this a problem ? they are the govt and they can do what they like with their figures. whatcha gonna do? call ghost busters? or stand there and do your own counts? theres only one little thing you can do. spread the word about voting the mafia out next year when d time come

  29. Linchh

    The Governor of the Central Bank said in her report on the performance of the economy for the period January to September 2007:

    “After the reduction in real
    tourism value added in the first quarter
    of the year, the industry regained
    momentum in both the second and third
    quarters, and grew by an estimated
    3.1% in the first nine months of the year.
    After declining by nearly 7% in the first
    quarter, visitor arrivals showed a spike
    of 13.6% during the second quarter of
    2007, relative to an increase of 8.4% in
    the comparable period of 2006.”

    Obviously, the 3.1% increase refers to visitor arrivals. I have found no data for the period July to September 2007. What is the basis for the 2% increase that Adrian Loveridge attributes to Pat Hoyos? Does he have monthly data for this period?

  30. Adrian Loveridge

    Linchh…

    My bone of contention was the Advocate article ‘Tourist arrivals for 2007 increases’ published 24th october 2007, in which the newspaper stated

    ‘The Barbados Statistical Service (BBS) reported that there were 402,209 stay-over visitors for the SEVEN month period, (January-July 2007), a whopping 18 per cent increase’.

    In FACT according to the BBS website, there were ACTUALLY 295,742 stay-over visitors for the SIX months period January – June 2007.

    That means there would have had to be 106,467 stay-over visitors in JULY for the Advocate article to be correct.

    The Advocate is categorically stating that the BBS is the source of its information.

    One of them MUST be wrong.

    Pat Hoyos, contacted the BBS and he seems to have been more sucessful that I have in getting a response.

  31. Adrian Loveridge

    Linchh…

    Explantion in todays Barbados Businesss Authority.

    ‘I had to call up the Barbados Statistical Service to get the actual arrival figures for January to September before the ‘real’ picture emerged’.

    ‘There was no reason why the Central bank writers could not have added one more short paragraph to Page 1 of their report, along the following lines: In the third third quarter, however, long-stay arrivals grew by less than one per cent over the same period last year, and for the whole nine-month period of January to September total long-stay tourist arrivals were up only two per cent over the same period last year’.

    ‘I mean, would we want to admit that even with Cricket World Cup our long-stay arrivals could not surpass last year’s growth’.

    My sincere thanks to Pat Hoyos for putting into true perspective the ludicrous story quoting a ‘whopping 18 per cent growth’ that appeared in the Barbados Advocate 24th October 2007.

    Do you remember the mission statement of the Advocate and those white horse ‘ads’ expounding the value of truth?

  32. Linchh

    Mr. Loveridge, obviously the figures given by the Advocate in its October 24, 2007 article are wrong. The correct procedure would be for the Advocate to publish a correction, and since this newspaper claimed that it obtained the figures from the Barbados Statistical Services, a letter to that agency might prompt such an action.

    However, this still leaves the discrepancy between the Governor of the Central Bank’s statement implying that visitor arrivals for the period January to September 2007 grew by 3.1%, and Patrick Hoyos’ that they grew by 2%. Both of these statements cannot be correct. In fact, if the Governor’s statement is correct, it would mean that the number of long-stay visitors arriving in the months of July to September 2007 was 138,260. However, Hoyos’ 2% increase would suggest a figure of 133,629 visitors for July to September 2007, which, when compared with the figure of 133,014 for July to September 2006, would suggest that there was virtually no growth between the two periods. Thus the 1.1% difference between Hoyos’ and Dr. Williams’ estimates is critical in deciding how well, or how badly the tourism sector has performed for the year to date.

    It is important to be able to make a proper analysis of the visitor arrival figures ON A MONTHLY BASIS, since the 13.6% spike in visitor arrivals in the April to June period of 2007 seems to be the factor that has driven the apparent growth in the tourism sector to date. However, that spike was driven by a 19.6% increase in the World Cup month of April 2007, when compared with April 2006. In short, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that if one looks at the growth in visitor arrivals in relation to the INCREMENTAL capital and current expenditures in 2007 on the tourism sector, the return has been very poor.

    The point that I have attempted to make, is that is useful to subject the statistical data to disaggregated and careful analysis before reaching any conclusion about the story that they tell.

  33. Statistics can be used for any purpose, and depending on who is using the numbers, they can obviously show what one wants them to show.

    I saw the same articles in the local newspaper, and opted not to publish because I felt the numbers were not reflective of what I personally know of the island’s tourism in the last year.

    As just one small U.S. agency specializing in travel to Barbados, I can only repeat what I have been saying for the last year – Barbados has become a destination for the wealthy, and is over priced for the average American traveler vs. other Caribbean destinations. My agency is received less inquiries for booking hotels/resorts – and more interest in villa accommodations.

    The word I have from the Barbados tourism officials is that the island is currently being marketed as a wedding destination – and I have not seen any new travel specials, or other types of marketing in my e-mail, or fax machine for months.

    On Oct 17, I received the following from a travel trade publication:
    “Air Jamaica Vice President of Sales George deMercado congratulated the Barbados Tourism Authority on its new site http://www.IDoBarbados.com, which shows prospective brides and grooms how to satisfy their wedding or honeymoon needs for a romantic and stimulating venue. “We applaud this innovative approach to marketing,” said deMercado.

    I might add that there is nothing new or particularly “innovative” about marketing any Caribbean destination for weddings and honeymoons – but that seems to be the current marketing focus.

    The CBC had this posting on Nov 2 – which also relates to the same marketing strategy, and concerns for 2008 tourism
    http://www.cbc.bb/content/view/13158/10/

  34. Linchh

    In the blog on BU Adrian Loveridge noted that the Advocate has published an article that givest the gowth rate of visitor arrivals from January to September 2007 compared to the same period in 2006 as 2.1%. However, it seems that no reference was made by the newspaper to the previously incorrect information that it had published.

    I guess that this is typical of the Advocate.