The 2009 to 2012 revisions of the National Tourism Indicators

1 Introduction

With the release of the first quarter 2013 estimates in June 2013, the National Tourism Indicators (NTI) were revised from the first quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2012. In addition, all data series expressed at 2002 prices (adjusted for inflation) have been rebased to the 2007 reference year. The change affects National Tourism Indicators data adjusted for inflation from 1986 to date. This article explains the impact of new and revised data on the NTI.

In 2012, tourism spending was revised from $81.9 billion to $81.7 billion (at current prices). The growth rate of tourism demand (in nominal terms) remained at +4.2% in 2012. Tourism spending was also revised down in 2009 and 2011, while 2010 was virtually unchanged.

In real terms, estimates of quarterly growth in tourism demand remained similar to those previously published (see Table 1.2). Out of the 16 quarters open for revision, all but three were within +/- 0.4 percentage points from the previous estimate. Seven quarters were revised down, seven were revised up and two were unchanged.

Cumulatively, tourism demand now shows an 8.5% increase in spending from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a previously published gain of 8.6% (adjusted for seasonal variation and price change).

2 Sources of revision

The revisions to the NTI came from several sources, including new Input-Output (I-O) tables for 2009, revised Canadian System of National Accounts (CSNA) quarterly indicators and employment indicators for the entire period open for revision, and more recent and updated tourism industry and travel survey data.

New I-O tables for 2009 were used to update the NTI. Updated growth rates based on these data resulted in new levels of tourism supply, demand, gross domestic product (GDP) and employment for 2009.

Quarterly indicators from the CSNA (mainly components of consumer spending and GDP by industry), revised for the entire period open for revision, were introduced as a result of the CSNA historical revision carried out in the fall of 2012. As a result, new benchmark information from other sources, notably the Survey of Household Spending, as well as transportation, food services and drinking places and accommodation industry surveys, were brought into the NTI indirectly. This affected the NTI quarterly movements and annual levels for all years.

2.1 Revisions to tourism demand (at current prices)

Tourism spending in 2012 was revised from $81.9 billion to $81.7 billion (at current prices) (see Table 2). Similar downward revisions were observed in 2009 (-$0.3 billion) and 2011 (-$0.2 billion), while 2010 was virtually unchanged.

Most of the downward annual revision to total tourism demand in 2012 was the result of lower estimates of tourism spending on transportation and food and beverage services, which were revised down $240 million and $224 million, respectively. Accommodation services (-$135 million) and non-tourism goods and services (-$117 million) were also revised down. A significant portion of the downward revisions in 2012 was offset by an upward revision to other tourism goods and services (+$532 million). This upward revision in other tourism goods and services was the result of updated I-O data for travel services in 2009, which carried over to other years. Previous estimates for 2009 were based on indicators that were also revised up.

All components of tourism demand were revised down in each year, except other tourism goods and services, which were, as noted above, revised up each year.

2.2 Revisions to components of tourism demand (growth rates at 2007 prices)

The annual growth rate of tourism spending (adjusted for price change) was revised down from +2.0% to +1.8% in 2012 (see Table 3). Other years open for revision were all revised up by 0.2 percentage points or less. Cumulative growth from 2008 to 2012 was about the same as previously published, at +6.8%.

In 2012, growth in transportation went from +2.5% to +1.7%, contributing the most to the downward revision in tourism spending growth.

In all years, patterns in growth at the component level were similar to those previously published. In most cases, revisions in growth were within +/-1.0 percentage point, and previous estimates showing positive (or negative) growth continued to show positive (or negative) growth. However, with the introduction of updated I-O data used to estimate travel services, other tourism commodities in 2009 was revised up from -3.5% to +1.1%. The previous lower estimate for 2009 was based on indicators that were also revised up.

Cumulative growth between 2008 and 2012 was revised down for transportation (-1.1 percentage point), food and beverage services (-1.7 percentage point) and non-tourism goods and services (-0.6 percentage point), while accommodation (+1.4 percentage point) and other tourism goods and services (+4.1 percentage point) were revised up.

2.3 Revisions to employment generated by tourism

Tourism employment was revised down from 614,600 jobs to 609,500 jobs in 2012 (see Table 4), reflecting lower estimates for tourism demand and real tourism GDP than previously published.

The downward revision was the cumulative result of revised weaker growth in every year, suggesting that the economic downturn that began in late 2008 had a greater impact on tourism employment than previously estimated, and that the recovery was slower.

Growth in tourism jobs for 2012 now sits at 1.5% compared to a previously published growth of 2.0%. While job growth in transportation, accommodation and food and beverage services industries remained positive in 2012, all were revised down from previous estimates. Tourism employment in other tourism industries is now flat, compared to previously published growth of +1.1% while tourism jobs in non-tourism industries was unchanged at +1.9%.

Revisions to job growth in tourism industries were mostly within +/-1.0 percentage points. Growth in tourism jobs in non-tourism industries, however, was revised down 1.6 percentage points in each of 2009 and 2010, contributing to the lower levels of employment.

2.4 Revisions to tourism gross domestic product (growth rates at constant prices)

Tourism GDP is now showing a 1.4% increase in 2012, compared to previously published growth of 1.8% (see Table 6). Growth in all years was revised down except for 2011, which remained unchanged at +2.7%. The downward revisions suggest that the economic recovery was not as robust as previously estimated. Cumulative growth between 2008 and 2012 was revised down from +5.0% to +4.1%.

The growth rate in the transportation industry was revised down 1.9 percentage points in 2012, following similar revisions to tourism demand of transportation commodities and to industry indicators. The revision to the transportation industry tourism GDP contributed the most to the overall downward revision.

In 2009, transportation was revised down 2.1 percentage points following the introduction of updated I-O data, also contributing the most to the overall downward revision, On the other hand, upward revisions in accommodation in 2010 and 2011 partly offset downward revisions in the food and beverage services and other tourism industries.

3 The National Tourism Indicators revision policy

The NTI revision policy allows for regular and systematic incorporation of new and revised data for past reference periods, including regular benchmarking to the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account (CTSA). This serves to improve the reliability and accuracy of the NTI time series estimates. The revision policy is adapted from the one followed for the quarterly national accounts.Note 1 That revision policy governs four types of revisions: current, annual, historical, and rebasing. Each of these is described below.

During the current reference year, estimates for any quarter are subject to revision at any subsequent quarter. For instance, a first-quarter estimate is revised on release of the second-, third-, and fourth- quarter estimates for the same year. Revisions to estimates during the current reference year are called current revisions. These revisions allow improvements to estimates for past quarters during the current year through incorporation of the most up-to-date information available (including revisions to source data as a result of late reporting).

At the time of a first-quarter release, all estimates for a given number of years back from the current year are subject to revision. This “annual revision” allows for the incorporation of the most up-to-date information from censuses, annual surveys, taxation statistics, public accounts, etc., which become available well after the fact. The number of years open to revision (or the “window for revision”) is now three years; this is in keeping with the new CSNA revision cycle. Furthermore, when a new set of CTSA benchmarks is incorporated into the NTI, the revision period is extended back to the previous CTSA. Thus, the window for revision in the NTI varies according to the frequency of CTSA updates, which, in turn, hinges on funding and resource constraints.

Once an estimate has gone through the cycle of annual revisions, it is subject to the comprehensive revision process. Comprehensive revisions also provide an opportunity to bring in new data. However, these revisions are mainly for the purposes of introducing new concepts and definitions, implementing new and refined methods, and revamping estimation systems. Comprehensive revisions typically result in changes to entire time series. The next comprehensive revision of the NTI is scheduled for June 2015.

Rebasing of constant price series, as with the first quarter 2013 release of the NTI, is normally carried out twice a decade. Rebasing is done to remove bias in measures of inflation-adjusted growth as relative prices in the economy evolve away from those of the base year. Rebasing involves revisions only to price indices and constant price aggregates, leaving aggregates at current prices unaffected.

Data tables


  1. For more information on the new CSNA revision policy, see The 1981 to 2012 revisions of the Income and Expenditure Accounts, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 13-605-XIE. See also Revisions of the Canadian National Tourism Indicators, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 13-604-MIE, no. 47
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