A report released this week said St. John’s saw an eye-popping 25 per cent increase in local hotels’ summer prices over last year — but the CEO of Destination St. John’s says the numbers don’t add up.
HotelsCombined, an online hotel price-comparison aggregator, said Tuesday that St. John’s hotel rates went from an average $149.02 in June, July and August 2011 to $186.60 for the same period this year.
That’s a 25 per cent increase that was second only to Calgary’s 27 per cent jump, chalked up to tourism for the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, among major Canadian destinations.
But Destination St. John’s CEO Cathy Duke said those figures don’t match its own.
“We regularly collect from the major hotels in the city, their statistics they report to us on a monthly basis,” said Duke, who said St. John’s saw a 3.5 per cent increase in the busy June-August months this year over the same period in 2011. Duke suggested the discrepancy may come from the unclear method used by HotelsCombined to obtain the data.
“It doesn’t explain whether it’s half-a-dozen people who booked, or which hotels they booked, or which hotels they booked,” said Duke, adding that not knowing the sample size makes it difficult to give the numbers credence. “Is it four visitors they’ve based it on? Last year, did they book the Battery and this year new people booked the Delta? There’s that big a spread between the Battery and the Delta anyway, right?”
An email from the Australia-based HotelsCombined indicates that the survey “amalgamates rates listed on dozens of major accommodation websites used around the globe.”
The concern for the tourism organization, said Duke, is that inflated data might scare away potential visitors.
“I wouldn’t want the message to get out and then have someone interpret it as a money grab, that St. John’s is jacking up the prices,” she said.