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A spatial analysis on the determinants of tourism performance in Japanese Prefectures

Romão, J., H. Saito (2017), "A spatial analysis on the determinants of tourism performance in Japanese Prefectures", Asia-Pacific Journal of Regional Science, 1(1), 243-264.
Abstract:

Assuming tourism as a place-oriented activity where tourist flows often cross regional borders, local and global indicators of spatial autocorrelation can be useful tools in order to identify and to explain different patterns of regional tourism dynamics and their determinants. These techniques recently became widely used in applied economic studies, as a result of their useful insights to understand spatial phenomena and benefiting from the existence of geo-referenced data and adequate software tools. This tendency is also observed in the tourism sector in the last few years. In this work, an exploratory spatial analysis and a spatial econometric model are applied to the case of Japanese Prefectures, leading to the identification of the specific spatial aspects prevailing in Japanese regional tourism dynamics. Spatial heterogeneity and agglomeration processes are identified, with a view on policy and managerial recommendations, offering a contribution to explore potential synergies arising from inter-regional cooperation in crucial aspects of tourism development. The results reveal the existence of such spatial effects, reflecting the importance for tourism of central areas of Japan, while revealing that competition effects among Japanese Prefectures prevail over positive regional spinoffs identified in other countries. It was also possible to observe that regions where tourism plays a more prominent role in terms of its importance within regional employment do not present a relatively high performance in terms of economic impact and benefits. The results suggest that a more balanced regional economic structure and higher levels of education of the work force contribute for improvements in tourism value added. Finally, the important role of foreign tourism boosting regional tourism performance is revealed.