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Tourism stats under reported

Tourism stats under reported


The Tourism sector’s contribution to the economy of the country is not fully known.{{more}}

This deduction was made as the outcome of the results of the first ever Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) were presented last Friday, November 18, to members of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) and other stakeholders within the tourism industry.

Because of insufficient reporting by some stakeholders, it was determined that the information provided did not give an accurate reflection of the total contribution of the tourism sector.

Chief Executive Officer of the SVGTA Glen Beache said that data had only been collected from hotels and restaurants in terms of tourism expenditure. He, however, contended that other key stakeholders were being left out.

These include taxi men, cruise operators, diving operators, and any other business that contributes to tourism expenditure.

“So if you’re telling me you only had hotels and restaurants in hotels, could you imagine if you put in everything else within the industry?” Beache told SEARCHLIGHT.

He added that there was no doubt in his mind that there were some holes in the research presented.

Beache explained that the data was, however, important, as it was essential to determine tourism’s contribution to the development of the country.

The project, a joint effort between the SVGTA and the Statistical Department, began in 2009, with the goal of providing data such as what is the industry’s gross domestic product and employment rates, and to determine the full extent of tourism related expenditures, which are what TSAs determine.

Dr Joy Hecht, Consultant with ACE International Consultants, explained that the ones charged with the task of providing the information may have under reported on the supply side, and this meant that when one compared the demand and supply categories, they did not match.

“We know that people don’t fill out questionnaires. That’s a given,” Hecht told SEARCHLIGHT, but added that the Statistical Department had methods for estimating for companies that did not fill out the questionnaires.

She contended that overall she was pleased with the methodology used by the statistical department to determine missing data, but said that the numbers on both the demand and supply sides were bad.

Hecht explained that the statistical department used the real data that they did have and used these figures to come up with estimates for other firms which were based on whatever information they did have.

“It could be that firms reported atypically high or atypically low. It could be that a couple of individual firms skewed the whole thing. We don’t really know.”

But the fact that the numbers on the demand side were so much higher than the supply side could indicate that the problem was on the supply side.

She said that the assumption was that the numbers on the supply side were too low, but said that there were circumstantial types of calculations that can suggest whether or not this was true.

Beache said that one possible reason why persons may have resorted to under reporting was to get out of having to pay over money to the government in taxes.

“It is highly probable that persons are under reporting to prevent from having to pay taxes,” Beache told SEARCHLIGHT.

He said that he knew a few hoteliers who were guilty of this practice.

But while he said that he was not “pin pointing” any one stakeholder, he said that something needed to be done to ensure that the government collects what they need to from stakeholders.

Beache further explained that the SVGTA was going to ensure that it gets this process right as he recognized the importance of the statistics and what they mean to the country’s development.

“Because as much as you are telling me it is tourism and agriculture, tourism is by far out front, and while agriculture will take back its place, the tourism industry’s contribution is significant,” he said.