Think About It: HT- Hey! - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

July 21, 2014

Think About It: HT- Hey!

Data is good, as long as it's good data. The recent $100-million mistake made by the Hawaii Tourism Authority by underestimating key visitor data is not a good sign for a number of reasons. #1- too many people, including legislators, depend on accurate visitor data to assess spending levels and providing services. #2- the error apparently occurred over time, meaning there was not enough double-checking going on to catch this error early on. #3- the reporting of the updated material included the term "revalidated data" when it was released. Every time Pinocchio tried to provide revalidated data, his nose grew a bit.

Just once when these types of official blunders come to the surface, it would be refreshing to hear a leader come forward and simply tell us the truth- procedures were not in place to prevent this type of error; human beings made mistakes; we screwed up. The HTA data, revalidated or not, came from surveys pored over by human beings. Systems need to be fixed to ensure that the public and elected officials can be sure that the information they are receiving is timely, accurate, and has been audited and vetted. Thus, while anecdotal auto and foot traffic evidence indicated a robust tourism trend thus far in 2014, the facts and figures we've been receiving for months indicated otherwise, and the ripple effect in tax dollar allocation based on supposed facts and black and white figures can have serious implications for locals.

The good news is that when all is said and done, it now appears that 2014 should end up as yet another record year for visitor arrivals and spending in Hawaii. Major plans at many levels depend on monthly tourism figures being accurate. Let's hope that this episode of "revitalized data" causes a revitalization of the measures and procedures in place to make sure trustworthy, factual data finds its way into the headlines and into the hands of decision-makers in the public and private sector. Think about it…

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