Hospitality New Zealand is concerned for the future of NZ tourism, following news that MBIE will stop funding for the Commercial Accommodation Monitor – the primary source of crucial data and insights for New Zealand’s number one export earning industry.
According to statements released separately today by Stats NZ and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), funding will cease later this year for the Commercial Accommodation Monitor (CAM), also known as the Accommodation Survey. According to MBIE, the last and final edition of the Accommodation Survey is now expected to be published on 14 November 2019 (featuring data from September 2019).
MBIE and Stats NZ have both stated that funding for the Accommodation Survey will cease due to “significant cost pressures” making it difficult to run on “present funding.”
The monthly CAM reports are currently curated by Stats NZ on behalf of MBIE, as 32 regional reports and a national overview. The CAM reports provide the tourism and hospitality industry with vital data and insights regarding visitor volumes and activity across New Zealand, at national and regional levels, including guest night numbers, capacity, number of establishments and occupancy rates.
On behalf of commercial accommodation members located across New Zealand, Hospitality New Zealand is concerned that defunding this crucial information resource will harm both the hospitality and tourism sectors, and reduce their capacity to work towards a sustainable industry, in line with the Government’s own goals set out in the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy (released earlier this year).
The tourism and hospitality sectors have previously made requests to Government that the Commercial Accommodation Monitor be updated and improved to also include data from peer-to-peer accommodation providers (such as Airbnb and Bookabach). The statement from MBIE released today acknowledged the failure by Government to do so. However, Hospitality New Zealand is extremely concerned by MBIE’s decision to cease funding for this vital resource altogether. This decision has been made by the Government without consultation with relevant tourism and hospitality industry representatives.
In response to the defunding of the Commercial Accommodation Monitor, Hospitality New Zealand COO Julie White commented: “Currently, all commercial accommodation providers nationwide, including hotels, motels, holidays parks and hostels, are required to provide their monthly data to Stats NZ. This information goes towards creating reports that are a vital resource for those accommodation businesses. The hospitality and tourism sector has not been consulted in the Government’s decision to cease funding for this resource that is not only vital to the health of the accommodation sector, but in turn, to New Zealand’s economic growth and health, since tourism is
New Zealand’s number one export earner, contributing over 20 percent of our foreign exchange earnings, and generating over $100 million per day for New Zealand.”
White added: “The data provided in the monthly Accommodation Survey complied by Stats NZ is a crucial insight towards achieving NZ’s key tourism strategies, including but not limited to successfully spreading the tourism dollar out in to our regions, as well as identifying seasonality issues. There are wider ramifications of ending this source of data, that stretch beyond the accommodation sector, including limiting much needed investment in to NZ’s regions.”
In the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy released in May 2019, the Government included better data and insights for the tourism industry as one of its four top priorities for 2019/2020, stating: “Better data and insight, including implementing the Tourism Data Domain Plan, identifying future trends that could impact on the tourism system and coordinate and share data and insight to support the industry.”
Tourism industry shocked by loss of key data source
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.”
Mr 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.”