LNP repeating debunked tourism data

Loose Change yesterday noted the release of the “report card” from the recent DestinationQ forum (see here for the press release). As he points out the claim of the tourism industry in Queensland having “grown by $3.5 bn” since the Newman Government came to power is the same that Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey made back in April this year after the release of the State Tourism Satellite Account from Tourism Research Australia for the financial year 2012-13.

As we pointed out at that time, this claim was at best highly misleading and at worst a deliberate attempt to distort the data. The data showed that, far from the claim of a $3.5 bn increase, the reality was an increase of something in the order of $1.4 bn from March 2012 to June 2013.

Unfortunately since that time we do not yet have the 2013-14 State Tourism Satellite Account data (indeed we would not expect to see that released for another 6 months or so). However, we do have the most recent International and National Visitor Surveys for the year to June 2014 from Tourism Research Australia. The expenditure data contained in those reports, while not a direct replacement for the State Gross Product (SGP) figure in the Satellite Accounts, is a close proxy which should allow us to make an educated approximation as to the SGP figure. The table below details the expenditure data (which includes international, domestic overnight and domestic day-trip expenditure in QLD) from the IVS, NVS and the SGP.

Year Ending Visitor Exp SGP
Jun-11 $18.1 bn $19.5 bn
Mar-12 $21.1 bn n/a (est $21.6 bn)
Jun-12 $21.5 bn $22.0 bn
Jun-13 $22.4 bn $23.0 bn
Jun-14 $21.8 bn n/a (est $22.4 bn)

What we have seen since June 2013 has been a 2.8% reduction in visitor expenditure in Queensland. This has been caused by a 2.1% decline in overnight domestic spend and a fall of 7.3% in day-trip domestic expenditure. International expenditure has remained virtually static (less than 0.1% decline). If we apply this decline to the SGP figure from June 2013 then we would estimate the State Gross Product component from tourism to be about $22.4 bn in 2013-14.

That equates to a $0.8bn increase “since the Newman Government came to power”; or a 1.6% annualised increase in the 2 years and 3 months (well below the rate of inflation). 

As for the claims of a 1.2% increase in overnight visits; this is hard to check as there is no indication as to which period they are referring. If we use data from June 2012 to June 2014 then there is actually an increase of 1.1% to 20.1 million. However, if we use the “since the Newman Government came to power” metric (i.e. from March 2012) then we see a 0.6% increase. I guess we can assume the report card is referring (almost accurately) to the “since June 2012” figure.

The Satellite Accounts also provide us with data on the number employed by the tourism sector; they also provide a percentage of total state employment in tourism. These do not correspond directly with State employment data from the ABS (we have used ABS Trend) but, as with expenditure and GSP, we can extrapolate to come up with some educated approximations. That is done in the table below.

Year Ending Tourism as % of QLD jobs (from Satellite Accounts) % applied to ABS jobs data Satellite account jobs
Jun-11 5.5% 125,000 127,000
Mar-12 n/a (est 5.7%) 130,000 n/a (est 133,000)
Jun-12 5.8% 133,000 136,000
Jun-13 5.9% 136,000 140,000
Jun-14 n/a (est 6.1%) 142,000 n/a (est 147,000)

We have assumed that the percentage of total jobs allocated to tourism has continued to increase since June 2013, hence our use of 6.1% for June 2014. We also assumed that trend was also in place between June 2011 and March 2012, hence the 5.7% used. Looking at these figures we have no idea where the quoted increase of 27,000 tourism jobs comes from (and there is no hint in the report card). Since June 2011 tourism jobs would seem to have increased by about 20,000; since March 2012 the increase is about 14,000. Since June 2012 (the first DestinationQ) the increase has been 11,000.

As for the claims regarding funding, we shall allow others to check the data.

On our analysis we can only conclude that the LNP are, once again, using data which includes the period from June 2011 to March 2012 and conveniently ignoring the data from June 2013 to June 2014 (at least as far as the value of the tourism industry is concerned). We would therefore suggest that the first three lines of the DestinationQ report card should read:-

  • Tourism Industry has grown by $0.8 bn (not $3.5 bn)
  • Tourism jobs increased by 14,000 (not 27,000)
  • Total overnight visits increased by 0.6% to 20.1 million (not by 1.2%)

Tourism has grown since March 2012, but by nothing like the amounts claimed.

UPDATE: This post got picked up by the Brisbane Times the next day, who ran with a story on the data quoting our blog.

3 replies
    • Pete Faulkner
      Pete Faulkner says:

      Thanks Gene. It worries me that, despite having the error pointed out to them back in April, they continue to push this story.I had a look on the Destination Q website statistics page and their own graphs make it crystal clear that the “$3.5 bn growth” figure is wrong and the 27,000 new jobs is nowhere to be seen.


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