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Modelling international tourism flows to China: A panel data analysis with the gravity model


  • Lizhi Xu

    (Beijing Union University, China)

  • Shouyang Wang

    (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China)

  • Jingjing Li

    (Beihang University, China)

  • Ling Tang

    (Beihang University, China)

  • Yanmin Shao

    (University of Science and Technology Beijing, China)


Based on the theoretical and empirical foundations of the gravity model, this article systematically investigates the determinants of international tourist arrivals to China. Various origin–destination (O-D) linked factors accounting for the economic, political and social/culture preferences between China and its tourist origins are particularly explored. Utilizing a panel data set of tourist arrivals to China from 21 countries from 1995 to 2014, the results suggest that the basic gravity determinants all have significant effects on tourist arrivals to China. Furthermore, four O-D linked factors are found to be significant in explaining the number of international tourists and have a greater tourist-enhancing effect. In particular, overseas Chinese, proxying for social/culture-preferential relationships, have caused significant increases in tourism arrivals to China of approximately 120% when the percentage of ethnic Chinese in the origin countries’ population is more than 1%. For China to be chosen as a manufacturing and processing centre by international enterprises, various O-D relationships are important but neglected factors of Chinese tourism patterns, with important policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Lizhi Xu & Shouyang Wang & Jingjing Li & Ling Tang & Yanmin Shao, 2019. "Modelling international tourism flows to China: A panel data analysis with the gravity model," Tourism Economics, , vol. 25(7), pages 1047-1069, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:toueco:v:25:y:2019:i:7:p:1047-1069
    DOI: 10.1177/1354816618816167

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