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Statistics, statistics, statistics…but what is reality for Puerto? 

By this time last year, everyone in the town hall team was gung ho about the ever increasing visitor numbers.

It seemed like almost every other week there was a press release telling everybody about what a great job they were doing. We were bombarded almost on a daily basis by ever improving statistics to back this up.

So what has changed this year? There has been no change at the town hall; the same team are still doing the same jobs, yet it has been ominously quiet. Perhaps they are not working quite so diligently on our behalf. Perhaps visitor numbers this year are no longer climbing; in fact year to date they appear to be fairly static, if not just a little in decline. Perhaps the town hall has realised that the exceptional increase in visitor numbers last year was not solely a direct result of their sterling work, but that external forces outside of Puerto de la Cruz had quite a significant impact on them. If they hadn’t realised, I can’t think why, it was fairly obvious.

I am not a fan of statistics; they are after all just playing around with the numbers until you end up with a positive result. So I have been quite pleased that following the glut of 2017 there has been a virtual dearth of them in 2018, at least until now.

Desperate, I am sure; to have the opportunity for a bit of positive spin they have recently released some cherry picked figures, which even so still don’t sound too convincing. I will only use the percentages if I need to to get my message across; otherwise I will ignore them if only because they are boring. Hotel occupancy figures are higher for Puerto de la Cruz this year than any other part of the island. That sounds ok, doesn’t it? Yet how does this compare with last year? Of course, they don’t say, I wonder why.

Overnight stays have increased, which in turn has raised the average stay from 7.19 days in 2017 to 7.45 days in 2018. This is, of course, exactly where just number crunching statistics makes you to leave the realms of reality. You can’t stay 0.45 days in a hotel; at least I don’t think you can, I have never heard of hotels in Puerto de la Cruz renting rooms by the hour, perhaps some of them do. And the time spent waiting in the bar for the airport coach to pick you up doesn’t count either. So in real terms, the average stay in 2017, rounded down, was 7 days and the average stay in 2018, rounded down, is 7 days, not really worth shouting about.

Less Brits

I did read somewhere that they were expecting less Brits this year, but then we are a fickle lot, so unpredictable, and are just as likely to go where the £ buys more, and unfortunately at the moment that is anywhere that doesn’t have the €. Still this is a trend, they have said, one they are looking to reverse by attending the world tourism fair in London in November. And why not, that’s what I say, there is nothing like a bit of a ‘jolly’ at the tax payer’s expense, and they should make the most of it with local elections looming, for some of them it might be their last chance. How do you think they will try and sell Puerto to the travel savvy Brits? ‘Come to Puerto de la Cruz, we almost have a bus station, it has only taken 10 years since we closed the last one.’

Still, they did say they weren’t too concerned in the drop in British numbers as the increase in visitors from the mainland would more than take up the slack, but are they of better calibre.

British visitors to Tenerife are the biggest spenders per capita than any other nationality whereas the increase in the Spanish numbers appears to consist mainly of pensioners on state subsidised holidays. You know the sort I mean, one cortado and four glasses of tap water, dipping in their bags for snacks when the waiter isn’t looking. Good for heads on pillows and those all important occupancy figures but not so great for the rest of the businesses in the town, but since when has the town hall any concern for them.

Austrian visitors?

Another press release just about worthy of a mention, this one from a few months ago, in which it was announced 4000 Austrians would be visiting Puerto de la Cruz over the ensuing three months. At least, I think it was Austrians; it could hardly have been Australians, could it? No, or else I’d have been sure to have head ‘G’day Cobber’ somewhere in the town. I am joking of course, the likelihood of it being ‘Aussies’ is about the same as that of anyone believing the figure quoted.

I am always very wary of round numbers with a lot of zeros, unless, of course someone is offering to pay me, another joke unfortunately.. They always smack of ‘guesstimation’ to me, just one step away from advertiser jargon, like ‘from’ and ‘up to.’ However, we are used to social media posts in Puerto de la Cruz with exaggerated figures, more usually at times of fiestas though, when attendance figures are often quoted as being somewhere in the region of everyone on the island at that particular time plus a few thousand extra just for good measure. So, I wonder how many Austrians actually visited within that three month period, we may never know, somewhere between 1 and 4000 would be my best guess.

Giant signs

Remember ‘Puerto de la Cruz, parte de ti’, old news now, last year’s slogan as it were, but worth another mention especially as it has recently been resurrected in the form of giant signs placed at strategic locations throughout the town. Perhapsthey are a reminder to the town’s residents of what it’s meant to mean. ‘Puerto de la Cruz, part of you’, so what does it mean?

At its launch it was said to be twofold, to make visitors feel as if they are in a home from home, and secondly more importantly, to encourage residents to become the town’s greatest ambassadors. Basically we were all to be one big happy ‘Puerto de la Cruz’ family. How could they get it so wrong? An idea that is already tarnished, much like the new signs soon will be.

I am very surprised that this slogan was ‘re-launched’ and the signs erected so late in this council’s tenure, there’s confidence for you, however misplaced it may be, because I’m not sure if it’s going to prove a vote winner. They should have come up with something new, something original , something everyone could rally behind , something to show the citizens how must they value their opinions, something to show how much they care, both about the residents and about the town. It is a bit of a tall order I know, especially given the administration’s poor result in the recently published island wide 2017 league table of Transparency.

I won’t embarrass them with their position, but, just to give you an idea, if they were in the premier league they’d be struggling to stay up. If the top municipality’s windows are crystal clear, then by comparison the windows in Puerto’s town hall are darkly tinted, verging on opaque. They might be able to see out, but you are not allowed to see in.

Bus station

Just to finish a quick mention on the new bus station. It may not look like it, yet work continues at a pace, so much so, the builders have confirmed the station will be finished in April 2019. Or, at least, the town hall has announced that the builders are confident of finishing in April, which might not be quite the same thing. If this deadline is met, it will be just in time for the publicity photos to taken before the local elections, and you can bet anyone who thinks they are important will be there, with their hard hat on if needed.

I have been keenly watching the bus station project and a layman though I may be, even I can see by the amount of steel reinforcing they are putting in the concrete it will stand up to the test of time far better than the last one.

Sorry, not quite finished yet. By the time you read this the calle San Juan remodelling project should have started right in the centre of Puerto, so expect mayhem and disruption, still it will give me something to write about in later editions.