Edinburgh council and how it interprets surveys

By | Category: Travel rumblings
interior of the National Museum

inside the National Museum in Edinburgh, one of the big tourist attractions of the city

I like the way the BBC wrote up the results of the public consultation that the council in Edinburgh undertook about its proposed £2 tax a night on hotels.

The broadcaster said that the plan for the tax had won “strong support” and went on to say that “85% of respondents to a City of Edinburgh Council survey backed the move, including more than half of accommodation providers.” Further in the story it went to say that “More than 2,500 residents and businesses responded…”

In fairness to the BBC, it was quoting a release from the council (you can see that in full by clicking here) but it didn’t question the validity of the claims.

The council says on its website that 513,210 lived in the council at mid-2017. Using the more reliable but older data from the 2011 census says that there are 476626 individuals living in the area but 15.2% are under 16. Removing those we are left with 404,179. Assume for a moment that all 2,500 responders were individuals (which they weren’t because the council tells us that there were business responses but doesn’t tell us how many of each type of responder) and the overall response is a pathetic 0.6%. Compare that for example with the 14,000 that responded to the mayor of Teesside’s consultation with residents on the re-naming of the local airport and you can see that the numbers achieved by Edinburgh are woeful in comparison.

tourist buses

Will a tax reduce the number of people taking a tour around the city?

That over 400,000 – the overwhelming majority of residents – didn’t indicate either way their feelings and can you really conclude that the overwhelming majority are in favour of the council’s plans as the council claims in its press headline?

Frankly it doesn’t really matter what residents think because they won’t be paying the levy. Visitors will.

What do they think? The council quotes research from Marketing Edinburgh that was conducted over two months last summer. At that stage an equal number of visitors were in favour as were opposed which doesn’t really tell us a great deal.

It is probably that a small levy will have little impact on visitor numbers but to claim “overwhelming” agreement is to blatantly misuse data for the council’s own ends. People should expect more honesty from their elected officials

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