What is it about?

Global tourist flows have increased in recent decades, but so have the outbreak and spread of epidemics, with enormous social and economic costs for the tourism sector. These developments affect the tourists’ decisions to travel through their perception of travel risk and safety. Tourists need to assess whether destinations can identify and manage epidemiological risks to improve travel safety. This paper responds to this challenge by constructing an index of epidemiological susceptibility risk using objective information on the quality of health, environmental safety and communications infrastructures, demographics, economic activity, and institutional governance. The index appears to be a significant predictor of inbound tourist flows and occasionally of outbound flows. The effect on inbound flows is stronger in larger countries and weaker for outbound flows. It remains robust after applying sensitivity and endogeneity tests and economic and non-economic controls. The index could potentially provide a useful policy tool for predicting and managing the implications of epidemics on the tourism industry.

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Why is it important?

This paper responds to this challenge by constructing a country-level index of epidemiological susceptibility risk, which it subsequently uses to document potential association with tourist flows around the world. This effort aims at the better understanding of how epidemics affect tourist flows. Many factors can affect a country’s susceptibility to epidemiological risk. However, in order to produce a measure based on objective and reproducible information with useful policy implications, the construction of the index is restricted to accounting for key relevant factors, such as health infrastructure; environmental safety infrastructure; communications infrastructure; demographics; economic activity; and governance institutions.

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This page is a summary of: Epidemiological susceptibility risk and tourist flows around the world, Annals of Tourism Research, January 2021, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2020.103095.
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