WYSK – What You Should Know. Statistics – Shock! Horror!

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WYSK – What You Should Know. Statistics – Shock! Horror!

Most travel figures go up a bit or down a bit. Although even some of those moves are significant, there are occasionally the shock-horror types. These are generally prompted by a major event (such as Japan’s triple-hit in 2011) but many are not.

 

Here are a few recent ones you may not have noticed (in alphabetical order):

 

China waves; hello, bye-bye

China is causing waves again – up and down. YTD arrivals from China into:

 

-Hong Kong, up 6%, but only +1% in previous month, -10% the month before.

-Japan, up 105%! Despite their scrapping politicians, Chinese travellers want to go to Japan. And not necessarily diversion from MERS fears in Korea, because…

-Korea up 28%.

-Macau, down 3%. Related to China’s anti-corruption drive.

-Singapore, -9%. Same.

-Thailand, +96%! Partly dead-cat-bounce, but new practical facilitation, helped by lowered prices, and proximity (much growth from areas in China other than the big three – Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai).

 

 

Milan’s airports

What should be Milan’s main airport, #Malpensa, is losing share. Ten years ago it counted 60% of the region’s passengers. Now, 48%.

 

 

Dysfunction #SingaporeAirlines

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that SA by quoted-company regulations should be reporting traffic figures of its subsidiary #Scoot. Well, now it is; thankyou.

 

That’s the good news. The bad is the business is – to say the least – not encouraging. SA’s first no-frills-airline #Tiger is falling 9% YTD. Something has to give, and soon.

 

At SA’s other NFA, Scoot, growth is 11%, but as I noted before for the business it is in, and its relative newness, that should be at least 15%.

 

As an aside, note that Tiger was forced to give up some routes to help Scoot get enough traffic. How dumb is that (in operational terms)?

 

Even the main SA is falling 1%.

 

 

Tokyo’s airports

Since authorities changed policies and accepted international flights into Haneda, that’s where the growth is going. In Q1, #Haneda +48%, #Narita -12%. Haneda still has only 43% of the Narita total, but five years ago, it had only 20%! As many airlines do not like Narita – it is too far out of town and has only one runway for takeoff – will it fade further?

 

I think there is probably another year of these trends to go, and then the pattern will level out.

 

*Reports on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional observations on the data shown here.

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

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WYSK. ICCA changes its figures – I think. PATA makes me think.

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WYSK – What You Should Know.

ICCA changes its figures – I think. PATA makes me think.

 

ICCA changes its figures – I think.

A recent Fox-on-Friday commented critically on ICCA’s headline findings for meetings in 2014. Looking more profoundly, there is a shocking revelation.

 

ICCA’s words (paraphrased):

 

ICCA undertook a review of historical data over the last 12 months, deleting meetings which did not meet the 3-country rotation criterion, and single meetings which previously have been counted as multiple separate meetings. As a result the normal levels of growth are reduced, even though ICCA believes that core growth is robust.

 

What does this mean? All (Most? Some? A few?) its earlier figures were wrong. And ICCA ‘believes’ growth was ‘robust’; I wonder how it knows, if it does not have the figures?

 

I told you so. For years, I have been commenting on this matter. Last year’s:

 

In earlier years I commented on ICCA’s innocence – its inability to flag apparent anomalies, which any professional organisation should do.

For instance, ICCA did not flag Taiwan’s 52% growth in 2010, even though that took it past Singapore. With Singapore’s stunning new attractions, I found that change hard to believe in marketing terms, even if strictly correct in statistical terms.

 

It seems it might not have been correct even in statistical terms!

 

Worse, ICCA does not explain what difference its new vigilance makes. And are earlier-year figures also changed? It seems not, but you and I are left to guess.

 

 

 

PATA makes me think.

I am also revisiting another subject – PATA. But this concerns counts for visitor arrivals in Q1.

 

An announcement usually announces something – unsurprisingly. With the PATA announcement, I find it difficult to learn what is happening. I will explain; PATA says:

 

-There were “more than 101mn” visitors; how about 102mn?

 

-That was “just 1.9% off” its forecast. 1, 1.9% on these base figures is not great; so “just” is a bit cheeky. 2, “off”; is that above or below its forecast? 3, what was that forecast? We have 4.1%; is PATA using that, or another?

 

-The Americas (two destinations) performed 4.9% above forecast. Why only two? Which two? What was forecast?

 

-Same for South Asia (two) 3.2% above, Northeast Asia (six) 2.2% “behind”, Southeast Asia (six) -4.2% “behind”, Pacific (nine) “-0.7% under” forecast. You and I can have a guess at some of these, but would you be sure? Take the Pacific. If the forecast was +5.0%, is ‘minus 0.7% under’, 4.3% (which would be 0.7pts) or 4.97% (0.7%)?

 

-For these 25 un-named destinations growth was 5.1%. But who cares if the destinations are not named, and thus not all included – PATA’s full list is 47 destinations?

 

-PATA still likes to list fastest-growth destinations. So it put Palau top – growing 44%. Er, that’s 15,000 more travellers. Japan counted 1.2mn more visitors in the same period. Get my point?

 

-“These numbers highlight the accuracy of these forecasts which reliably predict turning points in the visitor projections for 38 Asia Pacific destinations as they accelerate or, as in a few cases, contract their foreign inbound figures during 2015,” Eh? Say that again please.

 

 

*Reports on these topics in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional observations on the data shown here.

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

WYSK – What You Should Know. China’s visitor miscounts. Singapore Airlines’ group dysfunction.

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WYSK – What You Should Know. China’s visitor miscounts. Singapore Airlines’ group dysfunction.

 

 

China’s visitor miscounts

China’s visitor counts do not tally with those of the previous year. If they were all in one direction, I might suspect foul-play. But these vary, which indicates incompetence more than malice. Is this one of the few occasions when incompetence is comforting?

 

Differences in foreign visitor arrivals:

 

-January. +7% according to my calculation based on figures given by the DMO in this year and in 2014. +7% according the calculation in contemporary figures given by the DMO. (Sorry, in this month they were the same, but read on.)

-February -9% -19%.

-March flat, -1%.

-April -2% +4%.

 

To save you the bother, I have calculated what difference all that would make to YTD counts. I say arrivals were -1%, the DMO reports -2%. Over a year, that’s a difference of 1mn visitors.

 

WotTooDoo? The DMO has a new CEO, but he probably does not know (he is a politician), and if he did he would not say. Me? For the time being, I stick with the mathematical check, but if it continues, I will follow the adjusted (apparently) DMO figures.

 

(China is not alone; India routinely changes its monthly figures, not just for the previous year, but for 2013 as well.)

 

 

Singapore Airlines’ group dysfunction?

There are so many things at the Singapore Airlines group (SIAG) that do not look right, I do not know where to start. But, here are (just) a few*:

-Two years ago I wrote that SIAG should have expanded NFA (no-frills-airline) Tiger rather than create NFA Scoot. This seems more obvious now Scoot – supposedly a longhaul NFA – is operating on some same routes as Tiger – such as Singapore-Bangkok!

 

At the time, SIAG told me that one of the reasons was that it was a minority shareholder in Tiger, whereas Scoot was 100% owned. I did suggest they could buy more Tiger shares; a proposal that was dismissed. But then last October SIAG did just that – increased its shareholding in Tiger, to 71%.

-Business is bad. YTD at SA itself -1%. Silk +5% , but it should be closer to 10%. Tiger -9%! SIAG does not publish Scoot figures (which it should, according to Singapore stock market regulations; but this is Singapore Airlines); growth is probably good, but I think not as good as it should be, which is at least 15%.

-Tiger has been an extraordinary operation; as I have said, it is giving tigers a bad name. Government-enforced shutdown in Australia, then sale; company-enforced shutdown in Indonesia; sale (to a rival!) in Philippines.

-Virgin Australia. Shares ownership with a fierce rival, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad. At some stage, one will likely need to back down.

-India. It is too early to say if Vistara – SIAG’s second attempt to get an airline operating in India – is doing well. Its traffic share was only 0.5% in Q1, although its presumed target – Air India’s 18% – lost share, so there may be hope yet.

 

I am not saying SIAG is about to collapse – a long way from that. But some serious strategic changes will need to be made, and probably in the next 12 months.

 

(*If you want my full list, send me money.)

 

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

WYSK – What You Should Know. Macau undercooked. City visitor counts.

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WYSK – What You Should Know. Macau undercooked. City visitor counts.

Macau – Big Mac Undercooked

In 2006 I reported that Macau’s visitor business was too reliant on gambling. In 2011 I said the share of overnight visitors was not increasing, and the official estimate-but-undated-so-worthless target of 2-nights length-of-stay was at least five years away.

 

In 2005 LoS was 1.22; in 2014 it was 1.01. Even my pessimism was too optimistic.

 

In Q1 2015 gambling revenue fell nearly 50%, LoS fell to under 1-day, arrivals fell 4%. The destination is in trouble.

 

The famed leisure attractions – remember ‘Asia’s Las Vegas’? – are not attracting visitors. As my contemporary comments indicated, visitors will take-in the non-gambling attractions if they are there. But few travellers will be motivated to go to Macau for those attractions.

 

I do have some solutions – but that costs money, and a bit more time.

 

 

More city visitor counts

With the arrival of Mastercard’s city visitor counts there seems to be a rush.

 

Recently I compared my figures for 2014 with Euromonitor’s (two months ago it published its counts, but only for 2013). There was an amazing difference, not least with the fact that no fewer than four cities in EM’s top-10 counts were not even in mine.

 

Viz: Antalya (insufficient data); Kuala Lumpur (high count from Singapore distorts count, but mine is lower); Macau (high traffic from China and Hong Kong, technically domestic markets; my total for Macau is just 3.8mn); Shenzhen (80% of arrivals are from Hong Kong, technically a domestic trip).

 

Obviously, my list is the one to follow – because I know so much about the value of certain statistics. That enables me to say from time to time something similar to 20mn being higher than 30mn – if you get my meaning.

 

I have a slight problem with these new numbers – MC reports 2015 figures as though the year has finished. So these must be forecasts – although MC mentions this only at the back of the book! I have taken MC figures for 2014:

 

Mastercard shows London top of international counts with 17.8mn visitors, +6%. Also in the top-5 are Bangkok 16.9mn -3%, Paris 15.6mn +0%, Dubai 13.2mn +8%, New York 11.9mn +7%.

 

Singapore is shown as falling one place to 7th, but I cannot see how MC gets its 11.5mn total. Visitor arrivals in the city-state totalled 15.1mn, and even that excludes Malaysia. Adding overnight visitors would make Singapore’s total closer to 17/18mn.

 

MC has also got its Dubai figures wrong; I calculate half MC’s total, 6mn. The problem is that MC uses air capacity data (in some unexplained way). Dubai gets a lot of travellers (71mn through the airport), but most are in transit and so counted twice, and do not stay in the city. MC appears not to have taken this into consideration.

 

 

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.