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Section 5: Comparison of Google Trends with official data

One of the potentially useful facets of Google Trends is that it provides some information about demand or interest for destinations that are too small to be covered by national surveys.

The PDF download, however, includes charts about 2 sets of currently available official data and compares them with related information from Google Insights for Search.

Figure 8 in the PDF shows annual admissions data from Visit England (the national tourism organisation for England) for 2 of the UK's leading attractions: the Eden Project in Cornwall and Kew Gardens in west London.

The figure indicates that the number of admissions for the former has fallen in each year from 2004 to 2010 while the pattern for the latter has been less pronounced, with fluctuations and a decrease in the most recent year.

The related chart in Figure 10 in the PDF shows a similar pattern in the Google chart: a more noticeable reduction in interest in the Eden Project (as measured by travel-related searches in the UK) than in interest in Kew Gardens.

However, by this measure, interest in the latter has also fallen slightly in recent years.

The Google chart does include 2011 data that appears to show similar levels to that in 2010 for both attractions, and it will be instructive to compare this with the 2011 annual admissions data set when it is available.

The chart in Figure 9 looks at the quarterly estimate of the number of visits of US residents to London from the UK’s international passenger survey (IPS – carried out by the Office for National Statistics).

This can be compared with trends in American searches that include the term “London” and relate to hotels and accommodation (see Figure 11).

The published data highlights the seasonality of visits from the USA and indicates that the total number of visits in 2010 was less than in the previous year.

The Google Trends output shows a similar pattern of interest by quarter and also a falling of interest year on year that has continued into the second and third quarters of 2011 (April to June and July to September), periods for which IPS data was not available when the chart was produced.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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