Where Were You in 2011? Also, reciprocating travel

By Armond Noble
This item appears on page 77 of the January 2012 issue.

It’s hard to believe that another year has rolled around. It’s time for a roll of the drums and a blare of the trumpets to announce this year’s “Where Were You?” game. With prizes.

First, you speed-readers, Slow Down! To be eligible, you must include your ZIP code. That’s so we can find you when it’s time to mail out the prizes.

We also check to see that each entrant is a subscriber, because we don’t want (for example) the Molvania Tourist Office to be able to stack the deck with multiple votes for their country. Recently, a website devoted to hotel reviews was able to find out, through astute detective work, that many praiseworthy reviews of a particular hotel were coming from the employees of that hotel. Dirty pool!

The game starts on 1 January 2012, and we accept entries for 60 days after the first one is received. The game is called Where Did You Travel To In 2011? Now, we’re loosening the rules a little and not restricting it to just sovereign, independent nations. You can vote for (as an example) Bermuda. It just needs to be a place outside of the US.

Next, please, DON’T just write “UK” or “Great Britain.” If you went to Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland, please spell it out.

Now, this is important. Please enter! The more entries there are, the less chance there is for tie votes. Also, last year there were some holes, that is, destinations not mentioned. I then (in a later column) specifically asked if anyone had been to those nations which were missing from our results. The messages came flowing in and we saw that, in 2010, ITN readers traveled to every single actual nation.

How to enter — Write up a list of the nations you went to last year, and you may e-mail it to armond@intltravelnews.com. Or you may write to Where Were You in 2011?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818-1910.

Please don’t be bashful. Each single vote for every single country is important. There’s another factor involved: the level of accuracy. You may have noticed that when the results of a survey or poll are given, they mention “the margin of error.” Here’s how that is figured.

First, they tally the total number of responses, then they take the square root of that number and divide it into the number 1. The result is the margin of error. For example, for 500 responses, its SR of 22.36 divided into 1 = 4.47% MOE. Now, with 1,000 responses, its SR of 31.62 into 1 = 3.16%. At first glance, it may appear that there is only a 1.3% improvement, but actually the MOE has improved (gone down) by 41.45% (4.47 ÷ 3.16 - 1).

If you’d like to use your travel to say “Thanks!,” you may wish to consider visiting the UK, Japan or Germany. Here’s why.

Each year about a million more UK residents travel to the US than Americans to the UK. Isn’t that nice of our cousins? And look at the huge difference in populations!

About 1.4 million more Japanese come to the US than the number of us who go to Japan. Again, look at the population difference.

Then comes Germany. About 140,000 more of them come here than we go there.

I say “Thanks” to our overseas friends. Uncle Sam needs the money! There may be other such countries, but that’s all the stats from the major nations that I have.

Our travel certificates are really popular. It’s been suggested that an interesting addition would be an ITN travel award for visiting the “Ten Tiniest Nations,” those smallest in square miles. What do you think? Let us know.