Survey quality for the International Visitor Survey

This page contains key survey quality metrics for the International Visitor Survey (IVS).

Quality assurance metrics

The tables below contain results against quality assurance metrics that are monitored to reduce sampling error in the International Visitor Survey (IVS). These include:

  • Relative Margin of Error (RME)
  • Sample size
  • Response rate

See Survey error for more information about types of errors and how they apply to the IVS.

Survey error

Relative Margin of Error (RME)

The Relative Margin of Error represents the extent to which sampling error influences the mean value calculated. Given that we calculate RME at the 95% confidence level, if we ran the IVS 20 times, we would expect the true mean to be within 1 RME of the sample mean 19 times and outside 1 RME of the sample mean once.
The International Visitor Survey is designed to have an RME of:

  • 5% of the total spending
  • 10% for the top 6 markets: Australia, China, the USA, the UK, Germany, and Japan

The RME for year ending March 2024 was 3.8%.

For year ending March 2024, the larger sample size for annual data means results are available for Total (all countries), Australia, UK, USA, Rest of Europe, Asia, Germany, Canada, and Rest of World. Consistent with an increase in international visitor arrivals, the total sample size for the March quarter is higher than for the December quarter enabling results for the UK, Rest of Europe and Asia to be added to Australia, USA, Rest of World and Total.  

RMEs are estimates and should be used as an indicator of accuracy when interpreting results, rather than definitive figures.

For the March 2024 quarter, the RMEs are as follows:

  • Total: 6.4%
  • Rest of world: 8.1%
  • Australia: 12.0%
  • USA: 12.3%
  • UK: 12.7
  • Rest of Europe: 14.2
  • Asia: 15.5

For year ending March 2024, the RMEs are as follows:

  • Total 3.9%
  • Australia: 6.0%
  • Asia: 8.4%
  • USA: 8.6%
  • UK: 9.3%
  • Rest of Europe: 10.2%
  • Canada: 13.6%
  • Germany: 13.7%
  • Rest of World: 15.4%

Sample size for March quarter (January to March 2024)

The annual target sample size for 2023 calendar year of 8,900 was met with a total of 9,532.

In line with seasonal trends, the sample size for the March 2024 quarter was 2,894, an increase from the December 2023 quarter as the number of visitor movements increased due to the summer season.

Non-qualifier rates for the quarter (people approached for the survey who did not qualify for participation, primarily New Zealand residents and passengers in transit) decreased from the December quarter 2023.

Quarterly level statistics have a higher margin of error than annual level statistics, we therefore advise caution when using and interpreting quarterly level results. The September 2022 quarter data, as the first after borders re-opened in July 2022, is an outlier. We advise caution when using September 2022 quarter data in either quarter to quarter or rolling annual data analysis.

The target overall sample size for the March 2024 quarter was designed to be the same as pre-COVID-19 (see Table 1). No country targets were put in place for the 2023/2024 year due to the uncertainty of flight schedules and consumer travel preferences. Country targets for the IVS will be reviewed once travel patterns are deemed stable.

More information on IVS survey methodology can be found in the Methodology Paper, which outlines the impact on the IVS due to changes in travel patterns following COVID-19.

International Visitor Survey methodology

Table 1: Achieved, and target, sample size for 2023/2024 and pre COVID-19

Country Quarter 2 2023 achieved sample Quarter 3 2023 achieved sample Quarter 4 2023 achieved sample Quarter 1 2024 achieved sample Per quarter 2022 Target Sample Size Annual target sample size (2023/2024) Annual target sample size (pre COVID-19)
All 2,199 1,649 2,283 2,894 2,225 8,900 8,900
Australia 954 578 568 620 N/A N/A 1,348
UK 225 124 325 535 N/A N/A 856
USA 199 300 358 577 N/A N/A 920
China 25 45 76 73 N/A N/A 1,040
Germany 109 38 111 173 N/A N/A 752
Japan 75 59 102 75 N/A N/A 752
Korea 23 14 40 13 N/A N/A
Canada 46 23 156 219 N/A N/A
Other 543 468 547 609 N/A N/A

Response rate for the quarter ended March 2024

The response rate represents the percentage of people who complete the survey as a proportion of the total surveys emailed out. The International Visitor Survey was designed with an expected response rate of 30%.

Table 2 presents the response rates by country for the quarter ended March 2024.

Refusal and response rates remain broadly similar to pre-COVID ones for most countries. An exception to this is China where the response rate has dropped – MBIE is implementing ways to improve this. When the IVS resumed in mid-2022, the majority of qualified visitors surveyed were from Australia, however representation of Australian residents is returning to pre-pandemic levels of around 20% of visitors in the sample.

Table 2: Response rates for top 8 international markets

Country Quarter ended March 2024
All 29%
Australia 33%
China 11%
Germany 36%
Japan 21%
UK 36%
USA 29%
Korea 7%
Canada 32%
Other 26%
Last updated: 04 June 2024