Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (128)

Pearse Doherty


128. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach further to the statements by the Irish Hotels Federation criticising both the detail of statistics collected by the Central Statistics Office in respect of tourist behaviour, and the tardiness of the production of visitor statistics with 2011 just now being published, if there are plans to improve the timeliness and detail of these statistics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12637/13]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

It may be helpful to clarify for the Deputy that CSO tourism statistics for 2011 were in all cases published in 2011 and 2012, and that it would be inaccurate to suggest that CSO visitor statistics for 2011 have only now been published. Currently, the CSO produces three sets of statistics on Tourism. The first, Overseas Travel, which is published on a monthly basis (based on a three month rolling average), is based on the Country of Residence Survey (CRS) and provides estimates of the residency of tourists, i.e. where tourists to Ireland are coming from. This is important information in helping to determine the key markets for tourists coming to Ireland and also helps to identify new and emerging markets. Data for the period November 2012 to January 2013 was published on 27th February.

The second data source is based on the Passenger Card Inquiry (PCI) and gathers important information on the profile and expenditure of tourists coming to Ireland and Irish residents holidaying abroad. For example, in respect of tourists coming to Ireland, it highlights the mode of travel into the country, the route, residency, the reason for the journey, the type of accommodation used, the average duration of stay and most importantly expenditure.

Both the CRS and PCI are frontier surveys, conducted at point of entry Air and Sea ports. The Tourism & Travel release in respect of 2011 was published in September of last year. The 2012 Annual Tourism & Travel release will be published before the end of this month. Thereafter, data will be published quarterly. The third source of data on Tourism is the Household Travel Survey, which is a postal survey of Irish households and this covers domestic trips within Ireland by Irish residents and also provides additional information on international travel by Irish residents. The 2011 Household Travel Survey was published on 11 October of last year and results in respect of 2012 will be published before the end of May. After this data is released, data will be published on a quarterly basis.

By any measure, these represent a comprehensive set of surveys to measure the industry, both in respect of domestic, inward and outbound tourism. The CSO has been engaged with the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport in examining new data needs and will be publishing new additional data (at a national level) in respect of key markets (France/Germany/Italy/Australia and New Zealand) in terms of numbers of trips, the reason for the journey, average duration, reason by area of residence and expenditure. We will also introduce new tables showing expenditure cross classified by reason and by residence and trips by reason and by area of residence. This additional new detail will be published later this month.

The Country of Residence Survey (CRS) has a sample size of 426,000 per annum. The Passenger Card Inquiry (PCI) has a sample size of approximately 184,000 per annum. The Household Travel Survey samples in excess of 55,000 households per annum. By international standards these sample sizes are extremely large. The UK International Passenger Survey (the UK equivalent of the CRS and PCI) has a sample size smaller than that of Ireland, at 304,000, despite the difference in population.

It can be noted that the domain of Tourism statistics is subject to EU regulation. The benefit of this regulatory framework is that it ensures a range of comparable statistics on Tourism across EU member states. The range and detail of information published by the CSO exceeds that required by EU regulation. However, it will never be the case that the CSO, whose remit is official statistics, will provide information to meet all demands. In the case of Tourism statistics, Failte Ireland also carries out their own surveys and research including the Survey of Overseas Travellers, the Visitor Attitudes Survey and surveys of accommodation providers, which give further detail on aspects such as visitors’ motivation for holidaying in Ireland, activities undertaken, destinations visited and accommodation used. Such information complements the data produced by the CSO. The CSO is always open to engagement with users of its statistics regarding data needs.