F.2.  Border surveys and number of mode 4 trips or persons

7.60.            Border surveys can be used to collect further information on modes 2 and 4 trips persons or details, if an initial indication of the purpose of travel has been obtained, either through  the counting mechanism identified above or through such administrative records as arrival and departure cards and immigration counts. The relevant questions in existing questionnaires should relate to travel for personal, business or professional purposes, the two latter being more closely related to mode 4. Information on the characteristics of modes 2 and 4 border crossers could be obtained by adding supplementary detail to existing border and passenger survey questionnaires. However, it is important to note that information collected through such sources will most likely relate to the number of trips rather than the number of persons. When it comes to mode 2, the former would be the preferred option, whereas for mode 4 there would be an interest in both. 

7.61.            If the flows of certain categories of persons are small, as might happen for certain detailed categories of service suppliers, it would possibly require a larger, and more costly, sample, or a more targeted one, than when fewer categories are considered, in order to obtain sufficient information. For mode 4, a mechanism for targeting business travellers more specifically would be useful, for example, surveying travellers in airport lounges. 

7.62.            IRTS 2008 suggests the collection of information that would be very useful for approaching the number of mode 4 trips/persons. Recommended elements include a breakdown of purpose of stay into personal and business and professional activities. Among the professional activities, the self-employed are explicitly mentioned as are other types of persons travelling for professional reasons, such as business people and investors. Information on attendance at meetings, conferences or congresses, trade fairs and exhibitions is also recommended.[1] Compilers should further consult the IRTS 2008 Compilation Guide and closely cooperate with the compilers of tourism statistics to make the most effective use of such a data source. 

7.63.            A starting point for identifying mode 4 activities would be to identify people travelling internationally for business or professional purposes. As previously described, such information might be available from arrival and
departure card data, which could be used for a first stratification/selection for identifying business travellers (see also chapter 9). However, not all of the people in that group will represent mode 4. For example, people travelling overseas to receive a service, such as attending a conference or workshop, are also likely to select business or professional as their purpose of travel on an arrival or departure card, unless those cards include a separate option for the category of the relevant service. 

7.64.            Small modifications can be included in existing surveys to capture the mode 4 movements of natural persons. Adding such questions to border surveys will require close cooperation between those in charge of tourism and trade in services statistics. The questions suggested in IRTS 2008 on the purpose of the business trip could, for example, be extended as shown below. This would allow the differentiation between persons attending meetings, conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions and those who are of interest for mode 4.[2] The suggestions for questions, listed below, have been developed from the perspective of incoming persons.  Similar questions could be developed from the perspective of outgoing persons. 

7.65.            The following are sample questions for a business or professional visit/trip: 

Are you here:

    •  To attend meetings, conferences, trade fairs or exhibitions?
    •  For other business and professional purposes? 

In order to identify mode 4, the response to the next question could be combined with the response on length of stay. The question could be formulated in several different ways, including the following two options:

First option:
Are you employed:

    •   in the domestic economy?
    •   abroad?

 or are you self-employed?

Second option  (this option focuses more directly on the mode 4 supply of service): 

Are you here to fulfil a service contract?:    

    • as a self-employed person?
    • as an employee sent by your employer?

                         (alternative: Did your employer send you abroad?)

Are you coming to work in an affiliate of your employing company?:

    • as a services salesperson?
    • to negotiate the establishment of an (services) affiliate? 

It is important that the questions be formulated to be understood by respondents, for instance, through the use of explanatory notes. 

7.66.            Information on the occupation of the person could be collected, possibly presenting a short list relevant for the compiling economy. For example, specific information could be sought for those supplying maintenance and repair services, since that is a category of particular interest for many economies. Alternatively, of the respondent could be asked to specify the service activity of his/her employer, such as  “agriculture, forestry and fishing”, “water supply; sewerage; waste management activities”, “construction” and  “information and communication”. The activities of the employer, preferably consistent with ISIC, could also be listed in the notes attached to the questionnaire, but that is a second-best solution. 

7.67.            Some persons moving internationally under mode 4, especially intracorporate transferees, would be staying abroad for longer than 12 months; they could be excluded from tourism/travel border surveys if respondents are told not to respond if that is the case. However, it would be good practice to adopt an integrated approach, designing and conducting the border survey to collect information on all respondents, and then selecting the information needed for different statistical domains. For example, for tourism statistics, the compiler would select only visitors with trips of less than 12 months, while other persons, either visitors or those travelling for other purposes, with stays of various lengths, could be of interest in the context of MSITS 2010. 

7.68.        In addition, compilers must take into consideration the national treatment with regard to the duration of stay that determines whether or not an international traveller is required to register as a resident rather than be regarded as a visitor. The may need to be adapted accordingly. 

7.69.        As indicated above, rough estimates may be derived with no or little additional cost for the collection system. Unless it is possible to develop specific modules towards well targeted mode 4-related samples or identify ways to better exploit the existing data collection, only approximate estimates for mode 4 data derived from border/passenger surveys may be determined.[3]

7.70.        At least in some countries, using border surveys to collect additional mode 4 information may involve certain challenges, such as the cost of the survey and the size of the sample, which may need to be enlarged to ensure the representativeness of small sets of the population. In addition, the interview duration, and consequently the survey’s total cost, may increase or the survey form may become more complex or lengthy. Compilers must not forget that border survey managers are already pressed by other users, in particular tourism sector users, who are willing to expand the questionnaire for tourism-related aspects. That is why it is important that there be strong cooperation between the potential users of such data, for example, those interested in tourism, BOP or trade in services, to identify the synergies and priorities according to the specific information needs of the economy.


Include pages:

Country experience: Italy: border sample survey (Chapter 7)

Country experience: Philippines: measuring inbound tourism (Chapter 7)

Country experience: France: characteristics of international visitors and tourism trips (Chapter 7)


Back to F. Border surveys


[1] The scope of that business and professional category is described in para. 3.17 of IRTS 2008: “business and professional”. That category includes the activities of the self-employed and employees as long as they do not correspond to an implicit or explicit employer-employee relationship with a resident producer in the country or place visited, or those of investors, businessmen, etc. It also includes, for example, attending meetings, conferences or congresses, trade fairs and exhibitions; giving lectures, concerts, shows and plays; promoting, purchasing, selling or buying goods or services on behalf of non-resident producers (of the country or place visited); participating in foreign government missions as diplomatic, military or international organization personnel, except when stationed on duty in the country visited; participating in non-governmental organization missions; participating in scientific or academic research; programming tourism travel, contracting accommodation and transport services and working as guides or other tourism professionals for non-resident agencies (of the country or place visited); participating in professional sports activities; attending formal or informal on-the-job training courses; and being part of crews on a private mode of transport (corporate jet, yacht, etc.).

[2] Care should be taken about the use of the non-specific term "meeting", since a meeting can be with a specific client to deliver a particular service, and would be of interest under mode 4.

[3] See chapter 16 for more information. The Statistics Division website provides information on existing border surveys and compilers are advised to familiarize themselves with the questions relevant for mode 4.