Statistical properties and survey design of visitor spending using segmentation

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Estimating visitor spending through the segmentation approach has several advantages in terms of policy evaluation, user management and sampling design. This approach generally relies on visitor surveys to estimate two parameters, average spending per segment and segment share, so that total visitation can be apportioned to each subgroup. Equivalently, this approach is to estimate the weighted average spending by taking into consideration the relative shares of each user segment. This paper first provides a statistical formula to compute the variance of weighted average spending by taking into account the stochastic nature of spending and segment shares. Second, simulation analysis is adopted to compare the accuracy and precision of the spending estimator based on different study designs. The results show that conducting additional short surveys to obtain information on user segments provides two advantages. First, it helps to reduce non-response bias since certain visitor groups have higher ratios of unreturned questionnaires, incomplete data or non-participation. Second, it helps to decrease the variance of the estimator so that the upper and lower bound of the confidence interval can be narrowed. The level of variance reduction will depend on the relative segment shares, the average spending, cases that are obtained, spending variation and the probability of giving full spending information across segments. The implications for survey design are offered in light of the results.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • Tourism Economics, published bimonthly, is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the economics and finance of tourism worldwide. Articles address the components of the tourism product (accommodation; restaurants; merchandizing; attractions; transport; entertainment; tourist activities); and the economic organization of tourism at micro and macro levels (market structure; role of public/private sectors; community interests; strategic planning; marketing; finance; economic development).

    Fast Track. Tourism Economics Fast Track papers have been peer-reviewed, revised and fully accepted for publication. However, although these are the final versions from the authors, they are unedited manuscripts and will undergo a rigorous editing process before their appearance in an issue of the journal. This means that the Fast Track manuscripts may not conform to journal style in terms of presentation, spelling and other usages. They may also contain errors of typography, grammar, spelling, referencing, etc, all of which will be corrected in the processes of copy-editing and proofreading.
    Tourism Economics operates a Fast Track online publication system so that papers can be published and made available almost immediately on final acceptance by the journal. Each Fast Track article is given a DOI. When the paper is assigned to an issue, this DOI will automatically be transferred to the article in the journal issue.
    Fast Track articles may be cited using the DOI. Citations should include the author's or authors' name(s), the title of the article, the title of the journal followed by the words Fast Track, the year of Fast Track publication and the DOI. For example:

    Smith, J. (2013), Article title, Tourism Economics Fast Track, DOI xxxxxxxx.

    Once the paper has been published in an issue of the journal, the DOI will automatically resolve to that final version and the article can be cited in accordance with normal bibliographical conventions.

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