By ERWIN CHLANDA
Are 13,631 spectators 13,631 people?
Most readers would have thought so if they read a media handout last week from Chief Minister Adam Giles about the Red Centre NATS.
But as it turns out, one person could be five spectators. Or five spectators one person. How does that work? Well, the answer is one person went to the five different events during the NATS.
Mr Giles then goes on: “There were 13,631 spectators with 65% of attendees from intrastate and interstate.”
So, have spectators now become attendees? Can one person also be five attendees?
That’s important, because readers anxious to see what they are getting for the $1m their government had invested in the event would like to know how many PEOPLE actually attended.
Now note the out-of-town figure given by Mr Giles: 65% – of what?
If all the 13,631 spectators / attendees were people that would mean 8860 people at the NATS would have been from out of town.
If five spectators / attendees make up one human being than the out-of-towners would have numbered 1771.
And the $1m taxpayer’s money spend would either have been $73 per human being attending, or $367. Big difference.
A clear way for Mr Giles of informing the public about spending its money would be to simply tell us the number of people who went to the NATS, and the average number of events they attended over the three days.
The Alice Springs News Online first raised these questions on September 9 and it took Mr Giles until November 27 to come up with his inconclusive announcement.
When asked by us, Andrew Hopper, General Manager of the NT Government’s Major Events Company, had – ultimately – no difficulty providing a clear answer: “These are 13,631 occasions a visitor passed through the gates,” he told us yesterday, although on November 30 he had asked us to direct questions about the NATS to a media minder of Mr Giles.
His November 27 announcement goes on to say that out-of-town visitors “on average stayed for 10 or 11 days to also have a holiday and visit the Territory’s unique attractions and spectacular landmarks.
“Total visitor expenditure was estimated at $12,035,078,” claims Mr Giles. “There were 457 entrants with 41% coming from intrastate or interstate.” That’s 187 people.
Compare that to the Finke Desert Race this year: 716 interstate competitors crews made up a total of 6000 people. They were paying for 31,000 bed nights. Finke president Antony Yoffa says that and other money spent by the visitors pumped $6m into the local economy.
That’s just half of the $12m Mr Giles claims for the NATS whose fans must be the last Big Spenders.
If the NATS out-of-town number was 8860 people (65% of 13,631) then they would have spent $882 per man, woman and child, by the numbers proffered by the Chief Minister.
If their number was 1171, they would have spent $6795 per man, woman and child.
We asked Mr Hopper how the NATS spend figures were calculated.
He says, in a nutshell, the numbers are the “results from a post event survey conducted by the Major Events Company in which respondents were asked to confirm their home / origin and how long they stayed in Alice Springs and the surrounding region”.
We’ve asked him what was the number of respondents and how was the survey carried out? We will report his reply.
And, yes, there will be a Red Centre NATS next year, on September 2 to 4, whatever the numbers may be.
By ERWIN CHLANDA