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FEATURE ARTICLE: ABS INTERNATIONAL TOURISM ESTIMATES
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
Australia's international trade in services is compiled according to the International Monetary Fund's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6), which primarily presents trade by type of activity. BPM6 highlights the link between travel and passenger transport services and tourism statistics, an approximation to tourism expenditure may be shown as a supplementary item that identifies relevant tourism-related goods and services in the travel and passenger transport items.
BoP publishes memorandum items for credits (exports) and debits (imports) in order to provide an indication of the strength of tourism activity in Australia, given the name Tourism related services. The series is relatively simple to derive as it is created by combining the existing series total travel services (which includes business, education-related and other personal travel services) with the transportation series Passenger fares (which also includes agency fees and commission for air transport), as suggested by BPM6 guidelines. This is not a perfect representation of tourism services, as it covers services transactions with all non-residents (not just tourists). This value overstates tourist consumption in these series, while understating tourist consumption in other series.
Tourism related services compiled on a BoP basis are published in:
TOURISM SATELLITE ACCOUNT
In comparison, the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) publishes data showing the direct contribution of tourism to the Australian economy, by measuring the demand generated by visitors, and the supply of tourism products by domestic producers. Because of these differing conceptual bases (e.g. the TSA's definition of visitor, is different to the BoP definition of non-resident), there are differences between the BoP and TSA estimates. Further information on tourism statistics is presented in United Nations, Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework and United Nations World Tourism Organization, International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics (2008).
In the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 edition (cat. no. 1292.0), which underlies the Australian national accounts, industries are defined on the basis of their predominant activity (e.g. a bank is included in the Financial and Insurance Services industry as it is mainly engaged in financial transactions). However, while all the products that are produced and consumed in meeting tourism demand are embedded in the core national accounts, they are not readily apparent because 'tourism' is not identified as an industry in ANZSIC. What people commonly think of as the 'tourism industry' is defined according to the status of the consumer, not that of the producer. That is, the characteristics of the consumer determine whether the production is included within the scope of the 'tourism industry'. For this reason, estimates for tourism are not published in the main national accounts, but are released in the supplementary satellite accounts.
The TSA estimates, International tourism consumption and Outbound tourism consumption, are compiled in the TSA and published in:
COMPARISON OF CONCEPTS
As mentioned, there are differing conceptual treatments between the two datasets. BoP measures economic transactions between residents of Australia and residents of the rest-of-the-world (non-residents), while TSA measures the direct contribution of tourism to the Australian economy.
BoP tourism related services credits are closely related to the international tourism consumption (or tourism exports) defined in the TSA. The most significant differences between the estimates occur because the TSA excludes the expenditure of overseas students with a length of stay greater than one year and non-resident to resident transactions which occur in other countries (i.e. delivery of services by Australian residents in other countries), both of which are included in BoP. Other differences in the estimates relate to the TSA imputations for non-market services provided to overseas visitors, margins on foreign exchange transactions and the value of products provided to overseas visitors within private households. These imputations are generally not recorded in the balance of payments.
For debits, the TSA publishes information on outbound tourism consumption (or tourism imports) which is included in Tourism Consumption by Australian Residents on Outbound Trips and is presented in Table 10 of the TSA. (Note: Total Consumption by Australian residents on outbound trips is a different concept, and also includes the value of consumption by outbound Australian residents in Australia before/after international trips). The outbound tourism consumption series records the value of goods and services sourced from non-residents by Australian residents in association with these trips. The major differences between Outbound tourism consumption in the TSA and Tourism related services debits memorandum item published in BoP relate to the exclusion of the following items from the measure of outbound tourism consumption in the TSA:
ANALYSIS OF ESTIMATES
Graph 1 shows tourism related services credits (BoP) and International tourism consumption (TSA) between 1997-98 and 2010-11. Initially, the two series moved almost in parallel before the BoP series increased at a higher rate and, with the exception of the most recent data point, has diverged from the TSA series. The large increase in BOP's Education-related personal travel services series, which from the 1998-99 financial year to the 2009-10 financial year increased $14.6b, is the cause of this divergence. The fall in tourism related services credits from 2009-10 to 2010-11 can also be attributed to education-related personal travel, which fell by $2.2b (12%).
BoP's Education-related personal travel services diverges from TSA's equivalent due to the BoP concept of 'non-resident' including international students who have been in Australia for over 12 months, whereas the TSA definition of 'visitor' excludes international students that stay for longer than 12 months.
As shown in Graph 2, the BoP estimates and the TSA estimates of tourism imports between 1997-98 and 2010-11 are highly correlated in both magnitude and movement.
BoP and TSA estimates are designed to be indicators of tourism activity which is not separately identified in the core frameworks used by the ABS to present macroeconomic statistics. Both series have relevant exclusions and inclusions based on the differing concepts of International Accounts and the Tourism Satellite Account. Although the tourism exports series of recent times have diverged, they are largely consistent as indicators of tourism activity, and can be used for analysis depending on the desired use of the data.
The Tourism Satellite Account estimates are a conceptually accurate representation of tourism activity, however the data is only available in annual format. A more timely indicator are the estimates produced by Balance of Payments, with preliminary estimates available about a month after the reference period, however these estimates are subject to revision and are conceptually different to those in the TSA.
The main source of divergence in the exports series is education-related personal travel, included conceptually as part of BoP tourism, which can be removed or adjusted for TSA definitions. This allows users wanting more timely 'tourism indicator data' to use Balance of Payments series published in the 5368.0 and 5302.0 publications. However, users should be aware that the detailed tourism estimates in the TSA are more closely aligned to the concept of tourism as defined by international standards for tourism statistics, which are presented in the United Nations World Tourism Organization's Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework (2001).
Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, sixth edition (BPM6).
United Nations World Tourism Organization Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework.
United Nations World Tourism Organization, International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics.
Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 edition (cat. no. 1292.0).
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