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Measuring seasonality: performance of accommodation establishments in Sicily through the analysis of occupancy rates

  • Authors: DE CANTIS, S.; Ferrante, M.
  • Publication year: 2009
  • Type: Proceedings (TIPOLOGIA NON ATTIVA)
  • Key words: Seasonality measures, occupancy rate, Sicily, Italy
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Tourism, more than other fields, needs to be managed. As such, the provision of reliable information and adequate tools is one of the major challenges to monitor and to manage tourism destinations. Sicily (Italy) seems to have a great potential coming from its tourism resources, and most of the recent development programs have been focused on tourism. In line with the world’s trend, tourism in Sicily faced a growth in terms of overnight stays, from about 9 millions in 1994, to more than 14 millions in 2007. The regional expenditure in tourism from 1996 to 2006 was of euro 785 millions (Federalberghi, 2007), which ranks Sicily as the second region in Italy for tourism expenditure, in the years considered. Finally, in the South of Italy the share of employees in HORECA (hotel, restaurant, and camping) sector in 2006 was of 4.7%, though the overall impact is likely to be higher if the others tourism related activities would be considered. However, there are still many open questions, which treats the possibility of a sustainable development of tourism in Sicily. Some of these questions are related to the spatial concentration of tourism activities – mainly coastal destination; to the high share of national tourism demand, characterized by a lower expenditure profile; to the decreasing efficiency of accommodation establishments in the lasts years. Particularly, the low monthly average occupancy rates of accommodation establishments are one of the major problems of tourism in Sicily, since they are affected by an high degree of seasonality. In tourism literature, seasonality in tourism demand has been studied under different perspectives, such as causes, impacts and policy implications. However, relatively few authors have closely examined ways of quantifying and comparing empirical patterns (Koenig & Bischoff, 2005). This work starts with a critical analysis of the concept of seasonality itself and with its specification from the statistical point of view. After reviewing main seasonality measures, highlighting their properties in relation to the different research aims, this paper analyzes a standard and comparable efficiency measure, such as the occupancy rate of Sicilian accommodation establishments (by nationality of guests and by accommodation category), placing particular attention to its seasonality caused by tourism demand. Seasonal adjustment procedures, such as TRAMO-SEATS, are used to derive seasonal factors. Through the use of seasonal factors several seasonality measures are compared, distinguishing between measures for amplitude and measures for pattern. Data come from the Italian official statistical institute (ISTAT) surveys on tourism. Some considerations on data quality are also included in this work, and these are related particularly to the un-observed tourism, and to the geographical level of aggregation of data. Finally, this paper aims to highlight some questions related to the efficiency evaluation of tourism sector in Sicily, and to provide some tools for the analysis of seasonality which can be used to compare efficiency level of tourism activity and to evaluate the efficacy of policies oriented to reduce seasonality.