How does institutional quality moderates the impact of tourism on economic growth? Startling evidence from high earners and tourism-dependent economies
Over the years, policymakers in tourism-reliant economies have been saddled with the mandate to not only accelerate economic growth but also increase the living standards of domestic citizens. Tourism development has been highlighted in the extant literature as a route to attaining sustainable economic growth. Past studies affirm that tourism contributes significantly to both the wealth of nations and cultural diffusion. However, whether institutional quality moderates the impact of tourism on economic growth has yet to be given sufficient academic attention. The study uses data from 2002 to 2017 and the generalised method of moments methodology, while the Dumitrescu–Hurlin panel causality test is applied to check the robustness of results. The empirical results show that a 1% increase in tourist arrivals or air transport led to a 0.41% and 0.17% increase in economic growth, respectively. However, when particular governance variables are taken into consideration, this impact is reduced to −0.09% and −0.02% for both tourism proxies. This implies that the influence of governance on the tourism-led growth hypothesis through an interaction term between institutional quality and tourist arrivals was found to reverse the impact of tourism on growth from positive to negative in both high-earning and tourism-dependent countries. While infrastructure also contributes to economic growth, its impact is slightly higher in top earners than in tourism-dependent economies. The results of the study suggest that weak institutions in both country groups allow corrupt practices, which divert the positive impact that tourism should have on economic growth.