3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Aug 2017 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/10/2017   
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REVIEW OF OVERSEAS ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES STATISTICS

Why has the ABS undertaken a review of OAD statistics?

From 1 July 2017, travellers leaving Australia were no longer required to complete an Outgoing Passenger Card (OPC).

Due to the removal of the OPC by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), the ABS has undertaken a review of its Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OAD) statistics, methodology and processing systems. This has provided an opportunity to consider alternative data sources and ways to make better use of a range of existing data collected by DIBP about Australia's international border crossings.

OAD data is a key economic indicator, providing important information on cross-border movements. The data feed into a number of important collections at the ABS including International Trade, National Income & Consumption, International Accounts and the Tourism Satellite Account. It is also the major input for estimating Net Overseas Migration (NOM) and therefore the Estimated Resident Population (ERP).

The primary aim of this review was to maintain the supply and quality of OAD data, given its importance as input to a broad range of statistical collections, research and decision making.

Changes made as a result of the review were effective from the July 2017 issue of Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, (cat. no. 3401.0), released on 12 September 2017.

Changes to the monthly OAD publication

Prior to July 2017, the focus of the publication was on Short-term Visitor Arrivals and Short-term Resident Departures, with trend and seasonally adjusted data provided for both series. Since July 2017, the focus has shifted to Short-term Visitor Arrivals and Short-term Resident Returns. A full trend and seasonally adjusted series is now available for Short-term Resident Returns (i.e. a residents second leg of journey).

Changes in the July 2017 issue and onwards

Changes to the Time Series Spreadsheets under the Downloads Tab:

Table 1: Total Movement, Arrivals - Category of Movement - Monthly from January 1976 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 2: Total Movement, Departures - Category of Movement - Monthly from January 1976 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 3: Short-term Movement, Visitors Arriving - Selected Countries of Residence: Trend - Monthly from January 1991 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 4: Short-term Movement, Visitors Arriving - Selected Countries of Residence: Seasonally adjusted - Monthly from January 1991 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 5: Short-term Movement, Visitors Arriving - Selected Countries of Residence: Original - Monthly from January 1991 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 6: Short-term Movement, Visitors Arriving - Intended Length of Stay and Main Reason for Journey: Original - Monthly from January 1991 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 7: Short-term Movement, Residents Returning - Selected Destinations: Trend - Monthly from July 2007 (NEW SERIES)

Table 8: Short-term Movement, Residents Returning - Selected Destinations: Seasonally adjusted - Monthly from July 2007 (NEW SERIES)

Table 9: Short-term Movement, Residents Returning - Selected Destinations: Original - Monthly from July 2007 (NEW SERIES)

Table 10: Short-term Movement, Residents Returning - Length of Stay and Main Reason for Journey: Original - Monthly from July 2007 (NEW SERIES)

Table 11: Short-term Movement, Visitors Arriving - State of Intended Stay: Original - Monthly from January 1991 (revised from July 2007 onwards)

Table 12: Permanent Movement, Settlers - Country of Birth, Major Groups and Selected Source Countries: Original (will no longer be available) 

When was the new OAD series first published?

The new OAD data was made available from the reference month of July 2017 in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, July 2017 (cat. no. 3401.0), released on 12 September 2017.

A revised time series of 10 years, based on the definitional and methodological changes, has replace all existing data for the reference period July 2007 to June 2017. Access to the previous time series remains available in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, June 2017 (cat. no. 3401.0).

What OAD data is no longer available?

Although the majority of the OAD data previously available continues to be published, some data items are no longer available from 1 July 2017 as a result of the retirement of the OPC. They include:

      • Permanent Departures for Australian residents is no longer published in Table 2 of the Time Series Spreadsheets. Analysis of historical OAD data indicates that quality was not high for this category. For example, many travellers stating an intention of permanently departing return to Australia within twelve months. Net Overseas Migration statistics (published quarterly in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) are a better measure of long-term overseas migration. Permanent departures is no longer available for the revised series from July 2007. Permanent departures of Australian residents is now grouped with all Australian Citizen and Resident Departures.
      • Country of Disembarkation for Visitors and Australian residents departing.
      • Country of Stay for Australian citizens or residents departing is no longer available for the revised series from July 2007. An alternate source is Australian residents returning to Australia (i.e. a resident's second leg of journey). The ABS has produced a full 10-year historical trend and seasonally adjusted series for Short-term Resident Returns released on 12 September 2017 to assist data users transitioning to the new series.
      • Main Reason for Journey for Australian residents departing - from 1 July 2017, an amended Incoming Passenger Card (IPC) is used to collect data for an alternative to this series. Australian residents returning are asked to provide their ‘main reason for overseas travel’. Therefore, the main reason for journey is provided for all Short-term Resident Returns and Long-term Resident Returns from the July 2017 publication onwards.

What OAD data has changed?

All data items, other than those outlined above continue to be available. However, with the use of additional data sources, some definitional changes, and changes to the methods applied, all OAD data has changed to some degree. In particular:
      • Moving from a passenger card base to an all movements base
        Previously, OAD data was based on a count of all passenger cards collected. Historically, this was usually 99% of all movements stored on DIBP's Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). From July 2017, the ABS uses all movements stored on the TRIPS system. This provides a full count and an improved measurement of all overseas arrivals and departures.
      • Accessing pre and post-reference date data
        By accessing all movements stored on the TRIPS system, the ABS is able to make use of information from a corresponding incoming passenger card to acquire information about departures’ movements from Australia. Pre-reference date data includes all previously processed historical records, whereas the post-reference date data includes all TRIPS records up to and including 27 days after the end of the reference month.
      • Use of alternate data sources
        Information from existing electronic movement records maintained by DIBP is able to provide state of residence for most movements, a small number of records do not have state of residence able to be derived from the data supplied to ABS by DIBP. The ABS worked closely with DIBP, Tourism Research Australia, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services to identify and test alternate data sources to the OPC that could provide state of residence information. Medicare enrolments were identified as the only viable source for this information given the vast majority of Australian residents are registered with Medicare. Testing of this approach showed that linkage of movement records with Medicare enrolment records was technically feasible and allowed the continued production of high quality statistics.
      • Some variables in OAD data have changed
        The removal of the OPC has directly impacted on the following variables listed in the table below. Their availability, any alternate sources used, and definitional changes are also noted.

        All other variables have not been directly affected. Changes to overseas arrivals data is minimal. For some variables there is a minor improvement.

Table 1. Variables in OAD data that have changed (including new data sources)

OAD VARIABLEVisitor Departures
Incl. STVD & LTVD
Australian Resident Departures
Incl. STRD & LTRD

Duration of stay: Includes short-term and long-term
.
Available
Exact measurement from TRIPS system
Available
Exact measurement from TRIPS system combined with imputation
Country of Disembarkation

.
Not available
after 30 June 2017
Not available
after 30 June 2017
Country of Residence

.
Available
Incoming Passenger Card (IPC)
..
Country of Stay

.
..Not available
See 'What OAD data will no longer be available' above
Reason for Journey


.
..Not available
after 30 June 2017
See 'What OAD data will no longer be available' above
State of Residence

..Available
Incoming Passenger Card (IPC) &
Medicare data
State of StayAvailable
Incoming Passenger Card (IPC)
..

STATUS from 1 July 2017
- Changes to definitions
Visitor Departures:
From 1 July 2017, Visitor Departures are only travellers identified
with a temporary visa or New Zealand citizen.
It does not include Australian Citizens who previously had self-identified
on the OPC as visitors.
A revised 10 year historical time series based on this definitional
change is available.
All Australian Citizen and Resident Departures:
From 1 July 2017, Resident Departures includes all Australian Citizens, permanent visa holders, and any New Zealand citizens who can be identified as a resident.
A revised 10 year historical time series based on this definitional change is available.

.. not applicable


Is there a break in series?

Yes, there is a break in series for a range of OAD statistics. However, for all overseas arrivals data the impact should be minimal. In addition, the ABS has released a revised 10 year historical time series based on the definitional and methodology changes for the reference period July 2007 to June 2017.

For this 10 year period, the ABS has still used the existing data collected from the OPC for the following variables: Country of Disembarkation, Country of Residence, Country of Stay (but not for Australian residents departing), Reason for Journey, State of Residence, and State of Stay. From 1 July 2017, after the removal of the OPC, each of these variables have fully used their alternate source or are no longer available as identified in Table 1 above.

The definitional changes to 'Visitor Departures' and 'All Australian Citizen and Resident Departures', and the measurement for the Duration of Stay (see Table 1 above) has been applied to the full 10 years of historical data. Permanent Departures have been grouped with 'All Australian Citizen and Resident Departures' and are not available in the revised 10 year historical series.

Will this affect Net Overseas Migration (NOM) estimates?

The new OAD data, which is the main input data for the NOM system, will eventually be used to produce both final and preliminary NOM estimates. The ABS is also currently undertaking a review of its Net Overseas Migration (NOM) statistics, methodology and processing systems. Like OAD, a key aim is to remove any reliance on information from the outgoing passenger card. This has also provided an opportunity to look at ways to make better use of a range of existing data.

The ABS is not expecting any significant change on the final NOM estimates and the full range of data for the following variables will continue to be available for final NOM statistics:
    • Age
    • Country of citizenship
    • Country of birth
    • Country of previous residence
    • Reference period
    • Sex
    • State of residence
    • Travel category - top level (e.g. permanent arrival, temporary migrant or Australian resident)
    • Type of migrant (i.e. NOM arrival or NOM departure)
    • Visa type
In addition, the ABS is examining a new methodology for estimating preliminary NOM.

As the project progresses more information will be made available here, in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), and directly to various clients and stakeholders.

Are there changes planned for the Incoming Passenger Card (IPC)?

A similar review, conducted with government and industry stakeholders, to remove reliance on the paper IPC is underway. Unlike the changes planned for the OPC, which involve some data loss with the removal of the paper-based card, it is envisaged that IPC data will continue to be collected via alternative means (e.g. e-collection). Thus no substantive loss of data is expected from the potential removal of the IPC.

Where do I look for more information?

Information about the changes have been updated in the Notes Section of each Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0) publication.

Information on the definitional and methodology changes, particularly on some of the enhanced imputations and quality improvements to input data, are available in the Data Quality Issues (Appendix 2) in the left hand side navigation bar under the Explanatory Notes tab.