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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Changes recommended for International Visitor Survey – 31 July 2018

The International Visitor Survey (IVS) is generally fit for purpose, but some key areas need attention, according to an independent review by Stats NZ.

“The extensive review showed the survey works but it should be improved. It needs a tune-up, not a complete overhaul,” products, services, and insights general manager Dean Rutherford said.

The review was undertaken at the request of the survey owner, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The survey’s main purpose is to provide reliable estimates of total international visitor spending.

The survey of 8,900 visitors each year remains the best and most comprehensive available source of data for estimating spending by visitors to New Zealand. The IVS data supports other high-level tourism and economic statistics.

“The IVS should be seen along with other indicators of the state of tourism in New Zealand,” Mr Rutherford said. “It’s part of the panorama of information, not the only available snapshot of tourism.”

The IVS review brought to light a number of areas where the survey was not being conducted as originally intended.

“Some things have already been fixed, after they came to light. Further improvements are expected,” Mr Rutherford said.

“Stats NZ acknowledges earlier tourism industry concerns about the volatility in past IVS results, which showed visitor spend dropping while visitor arrivals rose. Those concerns led to this review.”

The review team consulted widely with the industry and sought feedback from key stakeholders.

“The review team is grateful for the time and support given by people throughout the industry,” Mr Rutherford said.

The review makes 10 recommendations aimed at correcting and improving some technical aspects of the survey and the governance of the survey. These technical improvements are expected to improve the accuracy of the expenditure statistics. Among other things, this will produce a more reliable pattern of spending for markets like China. The recommended improvements may also affect estimated total spending.

However, the review does not recommend that any revision be made to the historical series of the IVS at this stage.

“We can only see if revisions may be needed after carrying out the recommended technical improvements, when their combined effects are evident,” Mr Rutherford said.

“It’s too early to identify the impact on historical data that the proposed improvements will make.

“Therefore, the exact nature of any flow-on impact to other economic indicators such as balance of payments and gross domestic product.

“Any revision to these and other estimates is unlikely to be undertaken until 2019 and would be done in a manner to fit normal production and revision cycles.

“Meanwhile, there needs to be greater clarity around how IVS results are communicated, to help restore trust in the survey.

“We know there is scepticism about the IVS, but we are determined to resolve the issues the review uncovered.”

The IVS survey is carried out online and that will continue.

“We have found no compelling evidence to suggest the quality or reliability of the survey would improve by going back to face to face interviews,” Mr Rutherford said.

Download the executive summary, available from International Visitor Survey review 2018: Final report, for the key findings and recommendations.

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