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

The RME for year ending September 2023 was 3.8%. No country targets were put in place for 2023 to 2024 due to ongoing changes to global travel regulations, flight schedules, and consumer travel preferences. 

For the September 2023 quarter, due to the small sample sizes for most international markets, results are available for Total visitor spend, Australian visitor spend, and spend from visitors from the Rest of the World (everywhere that is not Australia).

For the year ending September 2023, the larger sample size means results are available for Total, Australia, UK, USA, Rest of Europe, Rest of Asia, Germany, Canada and Rest of World.

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

For the September 2023 quarter, the RMEs are as follows:

  • Total: 8.2%
  • Australia: 12.3%
  • Rest of world: 11.8%

For year ending September 2023, the RMEs are as follows:

  • Total 7.2%
  • Australia: 6.0%
  • UK: 8.6%
  • USA: 9.6%
  • Rest of Europe: 10.2%
  • Rest of Asia:10:3%
  • Germany: 13.2%
  • Canada: 14.2
  • Rest of World: 5.9%

Sample size for September quarter (July to September 2023)

The annual target sample size for 2022 to 2023 of 8,900 was met with a total of 9,195.

In line with seasonal trends, the sample size for the September 2023 quarter was 1,649. The primary reason was fewer visitor departures of 556,100, compared with, for example, 756,700 during the peak holiday season in the March 2023 quarter.

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 increased from the March 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 September 2023 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: Sample target for 2023/2024 and pre COVID-19
Country Quarter 3 2022 Sample Quarter 4 2022 Sample Quarter 1 2023 Sample Quarter 2 2023 Sample Per Quarter 2022 Target Sample Size Annual Target Sample Size (2023/2024) Annual Target Sample Size (pre COVID-19)
All 1,649 2,235 3,401 2,199 2,225 8,900 8,900
Australia 578 1,033 856 954 N/A N/A 1,348
UK 124 282 825 225 N/A N/A 856
USA 300 240 354 199 N/A N/A 920
1,040 45 21 56 25 N/A N/A 752
Germany 38 105 230 109 N/A N/A 752
Japan 59 16 81 75 N/A N/A
Korea 14 23 24 23 N/A N/A
Canada 23 115 206 46 N/A N/A
Other 468 441 769 543 N/A N/A

Response rate for the quarter ended September 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 September 2023, and which are in line with seasonal trends.

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. The majority of qualified visitors surveyed were from Australia. Previously, Australian residents have typically represented 20 to 25% of visitors in the sample.

Table 2: Response rates for top 8 international markets
Country Quarter ended September 2023
All 23%
Australia 24%
China 11%
Germany 21%
Japan 20%
UK 29%
USA 29%
Korea 12%
Canada 25%
Other 21%

Last updated: 04 December 2023