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Movements of People for Movements of Goods?


  • We thank two anonymous referees and the participants to the International Association for Tourism Economics (Chang Mai, December 2009) and Advances in Tourism Economics (Lisbon, April 2011) Conferences for their comments and suggestions. We also thank Manuela Deidda for her research assistantship.


Whilst it is well established to think of international tourism as a type of exports, namely ‘home’ exports, the potential of tourism flows as an engine for fostering trade among countries is a poorly studied topic. In this paper, we show that this relationship can be studied at a very detailed level by exploiting the disaggregation of existing information on international trade and inbound tourism. We consider a sample of 25 countries belonging to the European Union, a region that has been interested by common shocks such as the establishment of the euro as the new currency for many countries and the liberalisation in the air transport market. We carry out a panel data analysis by means of which we assess whether international tourist arrivals by a given country activate additional exports towards the same country. We find not only that tourism can promote exports, but also that this effect displays important differences depending on whether or not consumption goods are considered. This finding is consistent with the idea that the experience of tourists in a given destination reduces the fixed costs of trade, thus facilitating access to the advantages of international trade for more peripheral economies.