Trade in tourism services: Explaining tourism trade and the impact of the general agreement on trade in services on the gains from trade

Camilla Jensen, Jie Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The article addresses two questions related with tourism as a service trade. Can tourism be explained as other export activities? Does service liberalisation have a positive or negative impact on tourism receipts in destination countries? Previous research has either focused on the demand side factors (i.e. factors of demand in the origin countries) or on tourism as a long-run factor of economic growth. The research shows that a complementary perspective such as that offered by trade in a supply side perspective can render additional insights towards understanding tourism. This approach can explain why countries have absolute and comparative advantage. Another finding is that tourism as an export can be explained by some of the same destination factors that explain other service exports. Using different panel estimators the importance of supply side factors that are to some extent exclusive to tourism are demonstrated: the general price competitiveness of the destination, tourism infrastructure and the provision of safety. The econometric models also confirm the relevance of other conventional explanatory factors of trade in services such as GDP per capita and internet usage. The last part of the article analyses the welfare gains from trade under the general agreement on trade in services (GATS). The revenue (tourism receipt) effect is decomposed into a volume (arrival) and price effect. Results suggest that liberalisers under the GATS gained especially from a volume effect with average higher growth rates in the number of arrivals. There is also found to be a positive effect on the average income earned per tourist from being a liberaliser.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Trade and Economic Development
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)398-429
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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