What goes around

While awaiting the September update from Cairns Airport the BITRE have updated national numbers for July. Top 20 airports summary growth for the year to July:

bitre july1

This time I have included Proserpine which has distorted numbers following the impact of Cyclone Debbie on the Whitsundays when it replaced Hamilton Island in the top 20. Monthly comparison with July last year:

bitre july2

Rockhampton is a bit of a mystery there and comes off the back of a big number the previous July so should probably be taken as an outlier. Launceston plays catch up with Hobart. Mackay and Karratha now up near the top.

BITRE post monthly numbers for the top 20. They only post annual numbers beyond that. So an annual comparison of passenger numbers for Proserpine and Hamilton Island:

bitre july3

The increased share at Proserpine was evident before Cyclone Debbie but now looks to be reverting somewhat again. This could come into play when we consider the Productivity Commission inquiry into economic regulation of airports. Not sure I can think of two such closely located airports servicing a defined market?

I only browsed a couple but Gold Coast inquiry submission was emphatic that airport competition was more significant in SEQ. The BITRE top 20 airports by state comprises Queensland (8); NSW (3); WA (2); Tas (2); NT (2); Vic (1); SA (1); ACT (1). Karratha is currently #20 and Broome also lurks at #21 ready to pounce.

Meanwhile the numbers at Cairns continue to look a bit lame.


Parsing the pokie cycle

It’s monthly EGM (pokie) stats time again in Queensland. In September the Cairns SA4 region continued to outperform the state in losing money. I will leave the internal local data for now and look for broadly at Queensland regions.

This is growth in EGM win/loss for the September quarter over the last two years:

SA4                              1 yr %              2 yr %
Central Qld                  7.6%               4.4%
Cairns                           7.2%                8.2%
Mackay                         5.9%              18.7%
The Bush                      4.4%                7.6%
Outback                        4.1%              12.8%
Townsville                   3.9%                6.1%
Queensland                 3.0%                5.9%
Greater Brisbane        2.8%                5.6%
Sunshine Coast           2.8%                4.6%
SEQ                                2.3%                5.1%
Wide Bay                     1.8%                 3.5%
Downs Maranoa         1.7%               10.8%
Gold Coast                    0.7%                3.6%
Toowoomba                -0.7%               1.1%

SEQ = Greater BNE + Gold Coast + Sunshine Coast; The Bush = Queensland – SEQ

Maybe graph that for context. September quarter 2018 growth over the previous 2017 year:

Regiinal Pokies

Yes, everything above the Queensland average is to the north. This also applies to Outback (including Cape York) and my derivation of The Bush which are both weighted to the north in population.

There are lots of factors influencing these numbers at various levels however it’s difficult not to discern a predominant cyclical economic component. Mackay and Central Queensland in particular are both recovering from previous falls. The data posted by OLGR is only for the past three years.

Note: Mackay growth is also coincident with declines in both venues and operational EGM’s over the period. These numbers have increased in Cairns over the same period.

Note2: This is not intended as positive comment on pokies. This can be both a positive indicator of discretionary spending and at the same time an economic and social negative. These are not contradictory.

Previous Posts:

Kachink Kaboom;

Pokies hold down Reef Casino

Douglas pokie boom

Just saying ………

Bill Cummings presented his annual review of the region’s economy to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce on 24th July 2018:

Growth of the region’s tourism sector with earnings now over $3bn was strongly checked, 2008 to 2014, by the GFC and extremely high Australian dollar causing a retreat of over 20%. But this has been followed by a strong recovery back to record levels following the drop in the dollar. However, there is evidence that the strong upward movement has tended to slow over the past 12 months.

Let me warn everyone however, not to read too much into short term movements in the International Visitor Survey and the National Visitor Survey.
They are based on sample surveys and at regional level, statistical variance can lead to them not accurately reflecting short-term movements.

Airport passengers that account for the bulk of visitors can be more reliable. Over the year, international terminal traffic is up; domestic terminal traffic growth has slowed.

NVS comparison


The problem I have is that there are always more questions than answers ……


Dog’s breakfast gets down to business

Visitor survey data from Tourism Research Australia is a dog’s breakfast. That is the most apt description I can think of following a series of delays and revisions over recent years and data resources scattered incompletely in various locations.

I don’t know what happened to the old DestinationQ database which was an excellent resource to download and analyse data. TRA don’t post the full regional data from the survey in their excel file and you have to go to Tourism & Events Qld where partial regional data and commentary from the NVS is posted in the Domestic Tourism Snapshot

NVS commentary

Pete has also posted comments on these exceptional numbers on the NVS at Conus: TNQ once again with stunning domestic tourism results.

Is a 17.6% year on year growth in domestic overnight holidaymakers just too good to be true? Is it even feasible in a year where domestic passenger growth through Cairns Airport declined to be barely positive over the year. No, these are not the same data. Domestic air statistics includes international and local Cairns passengers. Domestic overnight visitors would include arrivals by road and cruise. I still wouldn’t expect such significant divergence.

I can think of reasons which could go some way to explain this trend but doubt it would be sufficient without issues related to the National Visitor Survey: Methodology

If I am reading the table right the two million overnight domestic visitors to TNQ translates to +/- 7% within a 95% confidence interval. A simple approach could be to just draw in a trend channel between the peaks and troughs over time. It will be somewhere in there.

Meanwhile Kate Jones has claimed full credit for her tourism events strategy: Aussies flocking to Queensland according to new data

There is really nothing exceptional in the Queensland holiday numbers which are broadly consistent with national averages. Table 11 from TRA is interesting which appears to be quarterly rather than annual. The growth story here is business overnight travel in Queensland and WA. Queensland up 19.2% on the previous June quarter in 2017 for overnight visitors and an astounding 59.9% on visitor nights. Maybe the corporate boxes at events were very full? On those numbers Kate should probably be holding aloft a lump of coal rather than her events calendar.

lump coal

Scott Morrison offers Kate Jones his lump of coal