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MBIE seeks cheaper accommodation survey after Stats NZ drops costly report

Wednesday 12th June 2019

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The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has put out feelers for a supplier of local accommodation data at a reasonable price, a week after Statistics New Zealand said it couldn't afford to keep doing the existing survey. 

The ministry yesterday issued a request for information, seeking a more comprehensive version of the monthly accommodation survey produced by Stats NZ. MBIE also wants to capture the likes of Airbnb and freedom campers, where the visitors are from, and how much they spend on the accommodation. High-level outlines are due by June 19. 

"The accommodation survey is planned to be discontinued in September 2019, largely due to unsustainable production costs," the pre-tender document said. 

"We are looking for alternative sources of information that could be used to replace or improve upon the data currently produced by the survey for a reasonable cost."

Depending on the responses, MBIE may issue further tender documents, or work with existing suppliers, it said. 

Last week, Stats NZ said it will stop publishing monthly accommodation surveys after the September report is released in November, because it and MBIE agreed the cost of producing the survey was unsustainable. 

The statistics agency had assumed it would pursue full cost-recovery for its third-party surveys, and would consider dropping the reports to focus on other areas of higher priority. 

Tourism lobby groups were unhappy with the decision to drop the accommodation survey, describing it as the only information on the volume of both domestic and international visitors around the country.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa noted that Stats NZ and MBIE had started work for a replacement survey, but that the outcome would be at least a year away. 

Stats NZ this week released experimental work on accommodation-sharing to better understand the digital economy, and wants feedback on how useful it might be. 

Regional Tourism New Zealand said government agencies need better coordination to provide useful data to the industry. 

“The government giveth and taketh away. On the one hand we’ve got Statistics NZ filling a gap with valuable information about a part of the industry we need to understand, while on the other, MBIE not prepared to continue providing the only data that gives us an insight into both domestic and international commercial visitor stay nights,” executive officer Charlie Ives said in a statement on Monday. 


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