B.3 Good collection practices and comparison of data sources for travel
11.11. Travel-related transactions are unique in comparison with other services, in that individuals are involved systematically in the consumption of the related products. The most efficient way to collect data from those travelling is, therefore, through surveys of persons or households that ask for information on their expenditures while outside their home country. There are certain limitations to such surveys, however. First, it may be difficult to reach relevant households/persons, notably non-residents, at the time they leave the country. Reaching residents when they return to their home country is also a difficult task, but they can be surveyed later (i.e., through household surveys).
11.12. Secondly, respondents may not have a perfect idea of all their expenditures during their travel, especially if they have to fill out the survey while they are in the process of leaving the country. Some expenses, such as hotels or some transport, could have been paid well in advance. Expenses in the context of business travel could be paid or reimbursed by the traveller’s enterprise; the traveller may even not know the exact value of the services transactions paid by his or her employer.
11.13. An ITRS could cover payments by resident and non-resident travel agencies, as well as large payments for travel. Payments by travel agencies may include expenses for hotels, domestic transport and meals during travel. Transaction data from foreign exchange bureaus could also approximate travel expenditures, although such data could contain non-travel transactions. Another potential weakness that can be important in the context of travel is that settlements and service delivery may not occur in the same time period.
11.14. Other data sources, such as payment and bank card (credit and debit) transactions, could also be explored. Such sources are not perfect, as purchases with credit cards or withdrawals with debit cards could have purposes other than travel spending. Therefore, the use of further information relating to credit and debit card transactions should be explored, such as the merchant code and information concerning the point of sale, in order to identify the relevant travel transactions. Compilers should be aware that persons travelling do not always use a card for payment, but may use cash, or payments may be made by a third party. However, payment and bank card information might be very helpful for establishing trends and geographical breakdowns, and it offers a much larger sample than any survey on persons or households can likely provide. In the context of personal and household surveys, administrative records, including information from entry/departure cards, and mobile phone records, information is often combined in a model to derive travel information.