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New calls for a coordinated approach to tourism data

Regional Tourism Organisations are calling for urgent coordination of tourism research following the release of new data giving the first ever insight into the value of Holiday Homes to New Zealand.

‘The Accommodation and the Sharing Economy in New Zealand’ report comes within a week of Statistics New Zealand‘s shock announcement that it will be scrapping one of the industry’s main source of tourism data, the Commercial Accommodation Monitor, in September.

The discontinuation, due to a significant price hike, has led the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), who fund the Commercial Accommodation Monitor under contract with Statistics New Zealand, to decide to stop paying for it altogether.

39.9 million guest nights were spent in hotels, motels, backpackers, and holiday parks for the year ended March 2018, so to lose this amount of data is a blow to the industry.

This new report, released by Statistics New Zealand, is a national insight into how peer-to-peer accommodation such as BookaBach, Bachcare and AirBnb have impacted on the economy.

RTNZ executive officer Charlie Ives says Government agencies need to get coordinated on giving the tourism industry the data it needs.

“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.”

Charlie says while the new research is welcomed, it would be great if it provided a regional breakdown.

“Every indication is that ‘peer to peer’ accommodation is giving a valuable boost to the regions that don’t have major accommodation infrastructure, by offering alternative places for visitors to stay.

"Research to understand how that impacts the regions, now and in the future, would be enormously helpful for the industry, and its funders."

Charlie says while the new Statistics NZ research is welcomed, doing away with the Commercial Accommodation data without an immediate replacement has serious implications for planning for the future of our growing industry.

“What we need is consistent, regular data for New Zealand, and all the regions, to understand the impact our largest export industry is having on the country.

Just weeks ago, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced a strong commitment to improving an understanding of the industry through data. Meanwhile the Ministries that serve our industry are chopping and changing the measurements which is little use to anyone.

"Many of us put considerable resource into supporting a comprehensive review of the CAM in 2015, which came up with some practical, sensible, achievable solutions to improving it," he said.

"Nothing has been done to implement these recommendations, despite industry representations. Instead it’s been sat on for four years, before finally announcing the dataset would be ditched without immediate alternative.

“A coordinated, comprehensive approach to understanding the New Zealand accommodation sector would be a major step forward. That includes maintaining research into the commercial side, (CAM), and expanding this to include peer to peer.

We believed, and still do, the government’s commitment. However, we need to see better understanding and decision making at the official level."

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