Motivated by the current local travel restrictions imposed by most countries around the world, we examine the relationship between domestic travels and the COVID-19 cases and deaths. We use data from more than 90 countries and apply multivariate regressions for two different periods (January–June 2020 and July–December 2020). We control for a number of variables, including the Covid-19 Government Response Stringency Index, which is very comprehensive in its conceptualization. Using 2SLS estimators, we provide evidence that countries with higher levels of domestic travels experienced higher levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths over the first six months of pandemic. However, domestic tourism decorrelated with the pandemic spread from July to December 2020. Theoretically, we demonstrate that during the early stages of Covid-19, domestic tourism is potentially a vector of the virus spread, but once a country is hit by the pandemic, other local factors take precedence. Practically, these findings provide empirical support to governments policies to restrict residents’ non-essential domestic travels to reduce spreading the virus during the first few months of the pandemic.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 08 Aug 2021.
- Domestic tourism
- COVID-19 contamination
- Travel restrictions