International Visitor Survey classifications and definitions

International Visitor Survey (IVS) data is recorded using particular terms and groupings (classifications). This page provides a list of these, to assist with interpreting the data.

International Visitor Survey (IVS) definitions

The IVS uses some terms that have specific definitions in the context of the survey. Some of these are defined below.

International visitor
Persons travelling to a country other than that in which they have their residence for a period not exceeding 12 months and whose main purpose of a visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the country visited.

Traveller (note that all 5 travel styles are mutually exclusive)

  • Tour group traveller
    Went to New Zealand (NZ) on a group tour that included international travel to NZ AND that was organised by a travel business or other organisation.
  • Package traveller
    Part (or all) the visit to NZ was a package deal that included international travel to NZ as well as something else such as accommodation AND that was offered by an airline or other travel organisation.
  • Semi-independent travellers (SITs)
    Reported some costs paid before coming to NZ AND is not recorded as Tour or Package.
  • Fully independent traveller (FIT)
    Reported no costs paid before coming to NZ AND reported costs paid by type of expenditure while in NZ (eg, credit card, cash, debit card) AND is not recorded as Tour or Package.
  • Unknown independent travellers (UIT)
    Reported total cost of the trip to NZ AND is not recorded as Tour or Package.

Total expenditure

  • Includes all money spent by each visitor personally during his or her visit to New Zealand (NZ). This includes any expenses that have been pre-paid prior to arriving in NZ that apply to the NZ portion of their trip, such as accommodation, transport, activities/activities etc.
  • Doesn't include:
    • International airfares.
    • Pre-paid package expenses which apply to countries other than NZ that are visited on the same trip.
    • Any money spent by the visitor on other international visitors — that is, other members of the travelling party or children etc.
    • Purchase of a house, flat or timeshare in NZ.
    • Maintenance done on a house, flat or timeshare in NZ.
    • Costs associated with a cruise ship visit to NZ.


International Visitor Survey data is recorded using particular groupings or 'classifications'. This document provides information on some of the classifications used, including:

  • Geographical classifications
  • Accommodation classifications
  • Transport classifications
  • Activity/attraction classifications
  • Reason for travelling (purpose of visit)
  • Expenditure classifications
  • Visitor characteristics/demographics.

International Visitor Survey Classifications [PDF, 306 KB]

Technical glossary

Is a resampling method using replacement. An observation is chosen from a sample and recorded. The observation is then replaced and another is chosen. This is repeated until the resample is the same size as the original sample. Bootstrapping is the method of repeating this process a predetermined number of times. In the IVS, bootstrapping is used in the creation of 500 sets of replicate weights based on stratified resampling with replacement of clusters from the original sample. Each set of replicate weights is re-calibrated to the population totals. This method is used to calculate the margins of error found in the Key Pivot Table.

See International Visitor Survey data release materials for this table.

Confidence interval
A range of values within which the true value of an estimate (eg, mean) is believed to fall. For the IVS, a 95% confidence interval is used to estimate total spending and average spending. This means that if we collected 100 samples, calculated the estimate and then a confidence interval, for 95 of the samples, the confidence interval would contain the true value of the estimate.

A procedure for entering a value for a specific data item where the response is missing or unusable.

Outlier treatment
Identifies any potential outliers and applies treatment to them so they don’t have too large of an influence over estimates.

Seasonal adjustment
Data is adjusted to remove the seasonal pattern in data and make the underlying trend more visible. In the IVS, spending estimates are very seasonal, so a seasonal adjustment method can be used. MBIE uses a seasonal adjustment program called X-13-ARIMA-SEATS, which was developed at the United States Bureau of the Census.

Statistically significant movement
A movement that is higher or lower than the size of the confidence intervals produced for the estimate. In the IVS, this would be a movement outside the relative margins of error of an estimated statistic (eg, total spend). We would then be able to say with confidence that an increase or decrease has occurred. We would encourage users to focus on these statistically significant movements.

Last updated: 17 June 2021