3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, May 2017 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/07/2017   
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REVIEW OF OVERSEAS ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES STATISTICS

Why has the ABS undertaken a review of OAD statistics?

Due to the planned removal of the Australian outgoing passenger card (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 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 is 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.

Why and when is the Outgoing Passenger Card (OPC) being removed?

The Australian Government is focussed on low contact automated border clearance technologies to manage the 50 million travellers expected annually by 2020. Removing paper-based passenger cards is integral to achieving a seamless and automated traveller experience.

DIBP has worked closely with the ABS and Tourism Research Australia to identify and successfully test alternate data sources to the OPC. Changes to use these alternative sources are now well underway to remove reliance on the paper OPC.

On 25 June 2017 Minister Dutton announced that from 1 July 2017, the card would no longer be collected.

Upcoming changes to the monthly OAD publication.

Currently, the focus of the publication is on Short-term Visitor Arrivals and Short-term Resident Departures with trend and seasonally adjusted data provided for both series. The focus of the new publication will shift to Short-term Visitor Arrivals and Short-term Resident Returns. A full trend and seasonally adjusted series will be made available for Short-term Resident Returns (i.e. a residents second leg of journey) upon release.

When will the new OAD series first be published?

The new OAD data will be made available from the reference month of July 2017 in Overseas Arrivals andáDepartures, Australia, July 2017 (cat. no. 3401.0), scheduled for release on 12 September 2017.

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

What OAD data will no longer be available?

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

      • Permanent Departures for Australian residents will no longer be 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. In future, permanent departures of Australian residents will be grouped with all Australian Citizen and Resident Departures.
      • Country of Disembarkation for Visitors and Australian residents departing.
      • Country of Stay for Australian residents departing - an alternate source is Australian residents returning to Australia (i.e. a residents second leg of journey). The ABS will be producing a full 10-year historical trend and seasonally adjusted series for Short-term Resident Returns when the new OAD data is 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) will be used to collect data for an alternative to this series. Australian residents returning will be asked to provide their ‘main reason for overseas travel’. Therefore, the main reason for journey will be provided for all Short-term Resident Returns and Long-term Resident Returns from the July 2017 publication onwards.

What OAD data will change?

All data items, other than those outlined above will continue to be available. However, with the use of additional data sources, some definitional changes, and changes to the methods applied, all OAD data will change to some degree. In particular:
      • Moving from a passenger card base to an all movements base
        Currently, OAD data is based on a count of all passenger cards collected. Historically, this is usually 99% of all movements stored on DIBP's Travel and Immigration Processing System (TRIPS). In the future, the ABS will use all movements stored on the TRIPS system. This will provide a full count and an improved measurement of all overseas arrivals and departures.
      • Accessing pre & post reference date data
        By accessing all movements stored on the TRIPS system, the ABS is able to maximise the use of pre & post reference date data, including incoming passenger card data to acquire information about an individual's first or second leg of journey as required. 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 reference month.
      • Some variables in OAD data will change
        The removal of the OPC will directly impact on the following variables listed in the table below. Their future availability, any alternate sources to be used, and definitional changes are also noted.

        All other variables will not be directly affected. Changes to overseas arrivals data should be minimal. For some variables there will be minor improvement.

Table 1. Variables in OAD data that will change (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)
..

FUTURE STATUS
- Changes to definitions
Visitor Departures:
From 1 July 2017, Visitor Departures will only be travellers identified
with a temporary visa or New Zealand citizen.
It will 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 will be available.
All Australian Citizen and Resident Departures:
From 1 July 2017, Resident Departures will include 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 will be available.

.. not applicable


Will it be a break in series?

Yes, there will be 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 is planning to release 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 will still use 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 will fully use their alternate source or no longer be 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) will be applied to the full 10 years of historical data. Permanent departures will be grouped with 'All Australian Citizen and Resident Departures' and will not be 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 data collected by DIBP.

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 upcoming changes will be regularly updated in the Notes Section of each Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0) publication until the new series are released on 12 September 2017.

Information on the definitional and methodology changes, particularly on some of the enhanced imputations and quality improvements to input data, will be made available with the release of Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, July 2017 (cat. no. 3401.0) on 12 September 2017.