5249.0 - Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/12/2016   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


Satellite accounts allow an expansion of the national accounts for selected areas of interest while maintaining the concepts and structures of the core accounts. A tourism satellite account (TSA) provides a means by which the economic aspects of tourism can be drawn out and analysed separately within the structure of the main accounts. In fact, one of the major features of a TSA is that it is set within the context of the whole economy, so that tourism's contribution to major national accounting aggregates can be determined, and can be compared with other industries.

Key tourism supply measures such as direct tourism output, direct tourism gross value added, direct tourism GDP and direct tourism employment relate to the direct impact of tourism only. A direct impact occurs where there is a direct relationship (physical and economic) between the visitor and producer of a good or service. Indirect effects of tourism consumption is a broader notion that includes downstream effects of tourism demand and is out of scope for the Australian TSA.

The concepts and methods used in the Australian TSA are based on international standards developed by an Inter-Secretariat Working Group on Tourism Statistics. This working group is comprised of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the statistical arm of the Commission of the European Communities (Eurostat), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). These standards have recently been updated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and are presented in the Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008 (TSA: RMF 2008). National statistical offices such as the ABS were consulted during the development and updating of the international standards. The standards are based on the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA 2008), which is the prevailing international standard for national accounts statistics.

The Australian TSA differs from the recommendations in the TSA: RMF 2008 in certain cases due to unavailability of data or lack of relevance to the Australian economy. The divergences do not have a significant impact on key aggregates. For more information on areas of non-compliance see Information Paper: Introduction of revised international statistical standards in Australian Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0.55.002).


The Australian TSA methodology involves estimating a full benchmark every third year, with the intervening years updated using relationships from the benchmark TSA and demand side data that is available on an annual basis. Results from the benchmark and the intervening updates are generally released in April and December respectively of the next financial year.

The benchmark TSA tables are published three years after the reference period because of the need to acquire detailed supply side data from key sources including annual business surveys, Supply-Use tables and Input-Output tables. The current TSA benchmark year is 2012-13.


Accuracy remains the main focus of ABS quality control. However, due to the variety of data sources and the compilation methodology for a TSA, it is internationally recognised that an objective accuracy measure in the sense of proximity to the ‘true value’ is impossible to produce.

While as much care as possible has been taken to ensure the quality of the estimates in the Australian TSA, users should exercise some caution in the use and interpretation of the results. In order to produce estimates at a finer level of product and industry detail than that normally provided in the national accounts, some of the data have had to be stretched up to the limits of their design capabilities. Moreover, major tourism aggregates such as direct tourism gross value added and tourism employment are not directly observable in practice. They have to be modelled in a supply and use framework. The assumptions underlying the estimates can have an effect on their quality.

The estimates have been prepared from a wide range of statistical sources. Some are closely related to the desired national accounting basis, but others are not. There are differences in coverage, concepts and timing. Many of the tourism industries and products identified in this collection are at a more detailed level, or do not directly concord, with the industry and product details in the national supply and use tables. While every effort has been made to improve the survey coverage of the finer level tourism industries, the accuracy of these estimates are subject to a higher degree of error than that generally pertaining to the broader level estimates published in the national accounts.

Given the variety of data used, and the transformations, aggregations and various assumptions used in the TSA compilation process, an assessment of accuracy is necessarily subjective and indirect. It involves an assessment of the process, the input data, and the transformations used to produce the Australian TSA. The ABS aims to achieve best practice in each of these facets. The related quality concept of reliability can be objectively measured by an analysis of revisions, but a reliable series is not necessarily accurate if it is based on poor quality data.

The Australian TSA methodology involves estimating a full benchmark every third year and the method for compiling benchmark estimates involves the use of fully balanced supply and use tables that underlie the national accounts. Also, the latest industry data in respect of tourism related industries is incorporated. Revisions to supply-use tables and input series generally result in revisions to portions of the TSA series as part of the benchmark process.

For further information refer to the Quality of Estimates section of the Explanatory Notes.


The coherence of data is an aspect of quality closely associated with accuracy, both within the national accounts system, and compared with the partial indicators of the economy. A major unifying feature within the Australian System of National Accounts is the use of supply and use methodology to confront the data and balance the components of GDP in annual terms.

In the compilation of benchmark TSA years, Supply-Use (S–U) data have to be disaggregated and rearranged to focus on tourism related products identified from tourism demand data. As such, the benchmark TSA tables will reflect exactly the same measures of major national accounting aggregates such as industry gross value added and GDP as the most recent release of the Australian System of National Accounts (cat. no. 5204.0).

The ABS publishes a large amount of data on various aspects of the economy. As the majority of these are used in the national accounts, and the TSA involves the use of supply and use tables that underlie the national accounts, it could be expected that there would be coherence between the TSA, partial indicators data and the national accounts.


A number of derived statistics and data transformations are included in the TSA publication to aid interpretation of the data. These include the tourism industry ratio and tourism product ratio. Analysis and commentary is included with each publication to provide more information and discussion of the estimates. Users may wish to refer to the Glossary of TSA terms to help interpret the tables.


For links to all tourism related data and publications, recent changes and forthcoming events, relevant websites and a range of other information about the Australian TSA, please see the Tourism Theme page.

For more detailed information about the revised international statistical standards implemented in 2009 in the Australian TSA please see the Information Paper: Introduction of revised international statistical standards in the Australian Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0.55.002) and Implementation of revised international statistical standards in the Australian Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0.55.003).