2015 review of the Regional Tourism Indicators

We conducted a review of the Regional Tourism Indicators from March to September 2015.

Background to the RTIs

The Regional Tourism Indicators (RTIs) were developed in 2012 to meet the 2011 Tourism Data Domain Plan recommendation that a new series of regional indicators be developed to measure the value of tourism in the regions.

2011 Tourism Data Domain Plan

Based on electronic card transactions sourced from the Bank of New Zealand (domestic sample) and Paymark (international sample), the RTIs report indexes and transaction counts of spending. The RTIs represent a sample of all electronic card spending.

Paymark has a market share of around 70% of New Zealand merchants, and the Bank of New Zealand holds accounts for approximately 20% of domestic households. The RTIs capture only card-present transactions — they don't include online or other card-absent methods of electronic card payment, and don't include other methods of payment such as cash.

The RTIs were published every month, and can be disaggregated by origin of cardholder, location of merchant and industry. This allows the user to drill down into the indexes to gain highly specific and timely insight into tourism spending behaviour in their region.

In 2015, we considered it was timely to review the series and make necessary adjustments to improve the product.

Objectives and scope

The objectives of the RTI review were to investigate issues identified during the first 2 years of production and to make recommendations on any changes if required.

The review sought to investigate questions and issues that fell under 2 general themes:

  • Are the data fit for purpose?
  • What improvements can be made to the series?

Are the data fit for purpose?

  • Are the source data sufficiently stable across time to maintain a consistent long-term series?
  • Do the source data accurately represent the whole population of domestic and international tourists?
  • Is the source data large enough and distributed evenly enough to provide summaries at levels currently released for the RTIs?

What improvements can be made to the series?

  • How are the RTIs being used currently? What features are most used and what features are missing?
  • Is it possible to include more China Union Pay transactions in the international RTI data set? What implications would this have on the series?
  • What would be the costs and benefits of changing the method of classifying domestic tourism spend to that used in the Domestic Tourism Expenditure Estimates produced for the Tourism Satellite Account in 2014?
  • Can the RTIs use weights from the Regional Tourism Estimates (RTEs) to report estimates of spend rather than indexes?
  • How should non-Paymark merchants be treated in the international RTI series?
  • How are new merchants entering the Paymark system being treated and does this have an impact on the international series?
    What rules or procedures could be developed for treating merchants who have switched to Paymark from a different provider?
  • Is growth in online sales driving declines in some Australia-New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) categories included in the RTIs?
    How could we take account of online activity in the future?
  • What ANZSICs are currently included in the data sets? How are non-tourism ANZSICs represented and how is this changing?
    Should non-tourism ANZSICs be included in RTI indexes?
  • When established, MBIE set criteria for merchants to be included in the initial dataset that led to some deliberate exclusions from the RTI sample.
    Are these criteria still valid? If not, how should excluded merchants be re-introduced to the RTI sample?
  • Are the geographic boundaries used in the RTI dissemination still valid?
    How do we ensure that geographic boundaries can be updated and modified easily?
  • Improvements for dissemination — should the baseline year of 2008 be changed?
  • What improvements could be made to the products to engage users more?

Project team and governance

A project team of our staff led the overall project management, analysis, and reporting. The final review products and recommendations were decided by the project team in consultation with the reference group.

The reference group comprised representatives from our Ministry, the Motel Association of New Zealand, Regional Tourism Organisations of New Zealand, Stats NZ, Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand, and Tourism New Zealand.


The final recommendations to the stakeholder reference group were accepted in September 2015 and are available here.

2015 Regional Tourism Indicators Review — Final Recommendations Paper [PDF, 398 KB] (external link)