Monthly unique regional population estimates (MURPEs)

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) and Data Ventures have worked together to produce estimates for monthly unique local and visitor populations in each regional tourism organisation (RTO) in New Zealand.

‘Unique’ means each person will only be counted once in each area they appear, regardless of how many times they appear or how long they stay there.

The series begins in January 2019 and aims to fill a key gap that was identified by the tourism sector in understanding regional visitor volumes.

The populations that are estimated include:

  • International visitors – people from outside New Zealand who are staying in the country for less than 1 year.
  • Short-term international visitors – a subset of international visitors who are staying in the country for less than 90 days. (These people are counted as both ‘international’ and ‘short-term international’).
  • Local residents – New Zealanders in their primary or secondary home region.
  • Domestic visitors – New Zealanders outside their home region(s).

MURPEs dashboard

The data can be visualised and downloaded on the Tourism Evidence and Insights Centre.

Monthly unique regional population estimates(external link) — Tourism Evidence and Insights Centre

Anonymised mobile location data used

To produce the MURPEs, Data Ventures use anonymised data from telecommunications data providers that contains anonymised information about mobile phone locations. They then apply a weighting process to account for people without a phone or with multiple phones.

A Privacy Impact Assessment has been completed to ensure the methodology complies with the Privacy Act 2020 and does not pose any risks to individuals.

Commuters are removed from the visitor population

Commuters are classed as people who appear in both their home region and another specific regional tourism organisation (RTO) area on the same day, at least 25% of days. This definition was tested and agreed upon with a group of key stakeholders from the tourism sector.

To distinguish between local residents and domestic visitors, each phone is given a ‘home region’, which is the RTO area where it most commonly appears. Regular commuters are assigned a second ‘home region’ where they will be classed as local residents and not domestic visitors.

RTO areas are defined based on the 2020 boundaries from Stats NZ.

Regional Tourism Organisation Areas 2020 Clipped(external link) — Stats NZ

MURPEs figures are estimates and have limitations

Some key limitations of the MURPEs include:

  • Figures are estimates and are best used to monitor trends rather than exact figures.
  • Unique visitors are counted the same, regardless of their length of stay.
  • International visitor numbers for the most recent 3 months are provisional and subject to change.
  • People who engage in tourism activities within their home region(s) will not be counted as domestic visitors.
  • The RTO numbers should not be summed up to get a total for a set of several RTOs. This is because 1 individual can be counted in multiple RTOs, and therefore will be counted multiple times.

Definitions, methodology, limitations and privacy