Determinants of international tourism: a three-dimensional panel data analysis
International tourism is a fast growing industry generating half a trillion dollars in annual revenues and accounting for almost 10% of total international trade, and almost half of total trade in services. Yet, it has so far failed to receive the attention it deserves from mainstream economics. This paper attempts to provide an initial understanding of the determinants of international tourism. This paper claims that international tourism, as other forms of trade in services, is driven by unique factors of production, and may be better dealt with in a single industry study rather than in a general equilibrium trade model. In order to understand these determinants the world is viewed as a market of differentiated products, and a discrete choice estimation technique is applied to a large three-dimensional data set of tourist flows. It is shown that a relatively simple estimation technique, combined with a rich data set, can deliver reasonable substitution patterns. It is found, among other things, that political risk is very important for tourism, and that exchange rates matter mainly for tourism to developed countries. These have exchange rate elasticity of about one.