''Big data'' is providing the tourism industry with
detailed information about visitors and their spending habits.
As part of a new system introduced by the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment, every time a tourist
uses their credit card in any region of New Zealand, a
computer records the transaction and collates it for use by
the tourism industry.
Data from credit-card transactions, often referred to as
''big data'', is being used, in this case, to provide a
picture of where tourists went and how they spent their
The new data shows, for instance, the majority of Chinese
credit-card use is in Auckland (62%). Otago is second (14%)
and the Bay of Plenty, including Rotorua, third (12%).
The ministry's site carrying the data also notes many South
Island regions have seen ''remarkable growth'' in spending by
''Chinese expenditure has grown 78% per year in the West
Coast, 62% in the Otago region and 58% in Southland.
"However, much of the growth was on a very small number of
These ''regional tourism indicators'' are just coming on
stream and Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager James Helmore
says they can show, for instance, how much Aucklanders spend
in Wanaka in a month - and vice-versa.
In six to nine months, the system would begin showing what
was spent in each tourism sector.
''So I could essentially have a report to tell me what
dollars are spent by Australian visitors on accommodation,
and dining, and retail and activities within the Wanaka
regional tourism boundary.
''If I am a Chinese visitor and I rock up to Wanaka and I
spend money through the duration of my holiday, that data
The information was available publicly just days after the
end of each month.
''So you get really relevant, timely information.''
MBIE began making improvements to its systems last year
because of a need for better regional information. Associate
Tourism Minister Chris Tremain said at the time using surveys
was expensive and impracticable.
''The [indicators] have proven to be the most important new
source of data on tourism since the late 1990s when the
international visitor survey was first introduced.''
Mr Helmore said the system did not take account of cash
transactions and also excluded money spent by overseas
visitors at home on such things as air fares to get to New