Regional Tourism Indicators development and data sources

The Regional Tourism Indicators (RTIs) were designed to provide data on tourism spending in the various regions of New Zealand, using electronic card transaction data as the source.


The Regional Tourism Indicators (RTIs) were developed in response to a need to better understand:

  • where in New Zealand visitors travel
  • what they spend money on
  • behavioural changes by season
  • the impact of events.

The use of survey data to capture this would be expensive and need an impracticably large sample size to provide data at the detailed level required.

Stats NZ uses electronic card transaction (ECT) data to provide timely measures of retail trade and has been releasing this data monthly since 2003. Stats NZ reduced the frequency of the retail trade survey in 2011 from monthly to quarterly to reduce respondent burden, and because the ECT series was providing good interim measures of change. Results show that since 2008, the level of use of electronic card transactions has remained relatively stable between 63-66% of retail activity.

In conjunction with Marketview, we investigated ECT data in 2012 as part of the Tourism Data Improvement Programme, to determine the validity of using this data to help answer questions about tourism expenditure at a regional level.

A separate data validation report is available, which shows the trends in the RTIs compared to other tourism data sources.

Data Validation for the Regional Tourism Indicators [PDF, 1.1 MB] 

RTIs superseded by MRTEs

Following a review of our tourism indicators in 2015, we developed the MRTEs which combined the dollar value estimates from the RTEs with the monthly frequency of the RTIs. This provides a dollar value estimate of spend in the regions based on a forecast of the RTEs.

We made some improvements to the methodology to align with the Tourism Satellite Account, and correctly identify commuter spending.

See Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates (MRTEs) to view and download the current MRTEs.

Data sources and coverage

International data

International data is sourced from Paymark via Marketview. Paymark is 1 of 2 clearing houses in New Zealand and approximately 70% of New Zealand retailers use the Paymark network.

International data covers all transactions made in Paymarks’s network (74,000 active merchants) by holders of international cards. This includes transactions made using China Union Pay cards.

Domestic data

Domestic data is sourced from BNZ via Marketview. BNZ has around 20% share of the New Zealand card market. The BNZ cardholder base is geographically distributed broadly in line with the New Zealand population.

The domestic data excludes corporate credit cards because their location is attributed to the head office rather than the location of the card user. Therefore it's not possible to determine when the transaction is away from the normal location of the cardholder, and hence classified as domestic travel.


From those sources, the data sets include:

  • all debit, credit and charge card transactions with New Zealand based merchants
  • all card-present transactions at the point of sale, whether authorised by PIN or signature
  • GST (amounts before 1 October 2010 have been adjusted to 15% GST).

The data sets exclude:

  • card-not-present transactions — such as payments of invoices, mail order, telephone and internet sales via credit card, direct debit from credit cards etc — where the card is not present directly at a point-of-sale terminal
  • credit card transactions with non-New Zealand-based merchants — eg, via the internet or phone mail order
  • transactions by New Zealand cardholders while overseas
  • cash, cheques or hire purchase transactions
  • automatic payments or direct debits from bank accounts
  • internet bank account payments
  • withdrawals from ATMs.

Data variables

For the Regional Tourism Indicators (RTIs), data variables include origin of merchant, origin of cardholder and type of merchant.

See RTI data variables for more information about these.

RTI definition of tourism


All the spending in this data set is considered to be tourism related. For the full list of countries see the definition tables.

RTI definition tables [XLSX, 74 KB]


Domestic tourism spend is defined as all spend by cardholders with merchants located outside the area in which the cardholder resides. Also excluded from the data are cardholder-merchant area relationships where the pattern of spending indicated that cardholders treated the merchant area as local.

A full list of cardholder-merchant area relationships defined as local is provided in the spreadsheet below.

TA cardholder-merchant local relationships [XLSX, 13 KB]

Data period and adjustments


The RTI series started at January 2008 and was a monthly series. It was superseded by the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates (MRTEs) in 2016.

The RTI can be summarised as monthly, quarterly or annual data.


The only adjustment we made to the data was to increase the GST on the period January 2008 – 30 September 2010.

The data wasn't adjusted for inflation — so when comparing between years some increase may be attributable to changes in price rather than increases in volume.

Data use

The actual data held is aggregations of dollars spent and number of transactions. However the RTI is presented as indexes, to avoid confusion with estimates for the total expenditure that are obtained from the International Visitor Survey or other sources.

See Use of RTI data for more information about the indexes.

Data validation

The validation work concluded that the RTIs in their current state can be used with confidence to measure change over time in expenditure activity and origin-based market share — eg, what proportion of UK spending goes to each region.

See RTI data validation for more information and to access the validation report.

RTI definition tables

The definitions tables can be viewed in this spreadsheet:

RTI definition tables [XLSX, 74 KB]

In the construction of the RTI, the following definitions were used.




The combination of territorial authorities (TA) that make up RTOs and regions.

ANZSIC groupings for reporting

Selected ANZSIC codes that have been grouped together to form standard groups.


All countries are individually listed in the data set.
For reporting purposes the minor countries have been grouped.

Core tourism goods and services

Selected ANZSIC codes that have been grouped together to form the core tourism goods and services index.

RTI questions and answers

The document below has more information about the Regional Tourism Indicators.

Regional Tourism Indicators: Questions and answers, Jan 2016 [PDF, 235 KB]