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New Zealand tourism industry shocked by loss of key data source

The sudden and unexpected removal of a key information source for the tourism industry in New Zealand is hugely disappointing, and the decision must be reversed, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

The monthly Commercial Accommodation Monitor (CAM), also known as the Accommodation Survey, provides information about commercial accommodation activity at national, regional and lower levels. It is an essential measure of visitor volumes and movements, providing guest night numbers, capacity, number of establishments and occupancy rates.

The CAM is carried out by Stats NZ for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Stats NZ has used a new methodology for calculating what it costs to carry out this and other surveys, and wanted to charge MBIE more. MBIE was not prepared to pay. As a result of this dispute between the two government agencies, collection of the CAM data is to cease at the end of September.

All hotels, motels, hostels and holiday parks across New Zealand are legally required to provide their monthly data to Stats NZ. None of them have been consulted about the CAM’s unexpected cancellation.

The information gathered in the survey is widely used, with Stats NZ producing 32 regional reports each month along with the national level data.

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says CAM is not perfect but it is an essential measure of visitor volumes and movements, and changes in accommodation preferences, especially at a local level.

“CAM is an imperfect data set and TIA has been calling for improvements for many years. For instance, it does not include information on peer-to-peer accommodation, such as Airbnb. MBIE and Stats NZ have begun work on concepts for replacing the CAM but the outcomes of this are at least a year away.

“TIA has repeatedly sought assurances that the existing CAM will remain until a new improved model has been tested and implemented.

“It is astonishing that a dispute between two government departments over who should pay has led to the demise of this key insight source,” he said.

Roberts points out that the Government has just released the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy which has, as one of four priorities, providing better data and insight to support the industry.

“This decision flies in the face of that objective. Information is vital so we can track how tourism is contributing to communities across New Zealand. MBIE and Stats NZ must find a way to ensure the Commercial Accommodation Monitor continues until a suitable replacement is in place,” Roberts said.

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