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 one RME of the sample mean 19 times and outside one 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

As the target for margins of error is calculated on the basis of annual data, it is too early to know for 2022/23 results whether the annual target has been achieved. However, the target was achieved for the year ending March 2020, with the RME for total spending for that year being 3.9%.

For the September quarter and December quarter, RMEs for three groupings were calculated: total visitor spend, Australian visitor spend, and spend from visitors from the rest of the world (everywhere that is not Australia), due to the small sample sizes for most international markets.

For the March quarter, the increase in sample size as international visitors return has enabled two new market breakdowns for visitors from the United Kingdom and the USA.

RMEs are estimates and should be used as an indicator of accuracy when interpreting results, rather than definitive figures. The RMEs for these groupings are as follows:

  • Total: 6.0%
  • Australia: 10.6%
  • Rest of world: 8.8%
  • United Kingdom: 10.7%
  • USA: 14.7% 

Sample size for Quarter 1 (January to March 2023)

The March quarter saw an increased total sample size of 3,401 compared with 2,235 in Q4. The primary reason was an increased number of visitor departures for the peak summer holiday season, 756,700, compared with 485,100 in Q4. 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) also decreased from Q4.

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 target overall sample size for the March 2023 quarter was designed to be the same as pre-COVID-19 (see Table 1). No country targets were put in place for the 2022-2023 year due to the uncertainty of ongoing changes to global travel regulations, flight schedules, and consumer travel preferences. More information on changes to the 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: Sample target for 2022/23 and pre COVID-19

Country Quarter 3 2022 Sample Quarter 4 2022 Sample Quarter 1 2023 Sample Per Quarter 2022 Target Sample Size Annual Target Sample Size (2022/23) Annual Target Sample Size (pre COVID-19)
All 1,360 2,235 3,401 2,225 8,900 8,900
Australia 993 1,033 856 N/A N/A 1,348
UK 70 282 825 N/A N/A 856
USA 97 240 354 N/A N/A 920
China 4 21 56 N/A N/A 1,040
Germany 14 105 230 N/A N/A 752
Japan 7 16 81 N/A N/A 752
Korea 7 12 24 N/A N/A  
Canada 22 115 206 N/A N/A  
Other 146 411 769 N/A N/A  

Response rate for the quarter ended March 2023

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 2023.

Refusal and response rates remain similar to pre-COVID ones for most countries. Australia remains the largest market of qualified visitors surveyed while other markets are increasing compared with the previous quarter.

Table 2: Response rates for top 6 international markets

Country Quarter ended March 2023
All 31%
Australia 32%
China 8%
Germany 33%
Japan 21%
UK 36%
USA 32%
Korea 13%
Canada 39%
Other 29%
Last updated: 02 June 2023