Sustainable development for film-induced tourism: from the perspective of value perception.

Kui Yi,

  • 1 School of Business and Trade, Nanchang Institute of Science & Technology, Nanchang, China
  • 2 Media Art Research Center, Jiangxi Institute of Fashion Technology, Nanchang, China
  • 3 Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China
  • 4 Department of Art Integration, Daejin University, Pocheon, South Korea
  • 5 School of Business, Foshan University, Foshan, China
  • 6 College of Management, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China
  • 7 School of Economics and Management, East China Jiaotong University, Nanchang, China

The tourism economy has become a new driving force for economic growth, and film-induced tourism in particular has been widely proven to promote economic and cultural development. Few studies focus on analyzing the inherent characteristics of the economic and cultural effects of film-induced tourism, and the research on the dynamic mechanism of the sustainable development of film-induced tourism is relatively limited. Therefore, from the perspective of the integration of culture and industry, the research explores the dynamic mechanism of sustainable development between film-induced culture and film-induced industry through a questionnaire survey of 1,054 tourism management personnel, combined with quantitative empirical methods. The conclusion shows that the degree of integration of culture and tourism is an important mediating role that affects the dynamic mechanism of sustainable development of film-induced tourism, and the development of film-induced tourism depends on the integration of culture and industry. Constructing a diversified industrial integration model according to local conditions and determining the development path of resource, technology, market, product integration, and administrative management can become the general trend of the future development of film-induced tourism.


As an emerging industry, cultural tourism can make up for the economic difficulties caused by the weak growth of the primary and secondary industries, and replace it as a new driving force for economic growth ( Liu et al., 2021b ). As recognized by both the academic community and industry, cultural tourism products greatly impact tourism destination development; souvenir, local cuisines, and films/television programs can promote tourism destinations ( Liu et al., 2021a , b ). Among them, film/television is the most influential form of art in today’s society. Film and television can help potential tourists to have some sensory and emotional cognitions through empathy and vicarious feeling to the tourist destinations mentioned in the films ( Kim and Kim, 2018 ; Pérez García et al., 2021 ), thereby generating tourism motivation and ultimately promoting tourism behaviors. Film and television, without exception, have integrated commerciality and artistry since birth, and form a unique form of culture ( Riley et al., 1998 ).

Hence, these significant economic effects have been widely investigated by researchers from different perspectives, such as promotion of local brands ( Liu et al., 2021a ), and changes in aesthetic information dissemination ( Kim et al., 2019 ). With in-depth studies, researchers have identified the profound connotation of the rapid development of film-induced tourism: the extension of the immersive tourism ( Marafa et al., 2020 ), the endowment of modern fashion labels for tourism destinations ( Teng and Chen, 2020 ), and multi-dimensional integrations of modern media technology and traditional entertainment industry.

Culture is the soul of tourism, and tourism is an important carrier of culture. Although the experience of film/television is different from tourism—the former is provided to people by means of image transmission, and the latter is realized by the way of people moving—but the essence is both cultural experience ( Syafrini et al., 2020 ; Senbeto and Hon, 2021 ). The connotation and the applied research of film-induced tourism reveal the complexity and diversity of the integrations of modern media and traditional entertainment.

The traditional glimmering style sightseeing tour is just a shallow taste, and often cannot make tourists get a deep enjoyment. Film-induced tourism is different, mature film-induced tourism products can bring tourists wholehearted relaxation and enjoyment, and make tourists’ self-worth better reflect. To clarify the inherent characteristics of film-induced tourism, the interactive observation of both the film and television subject and the tourism subject provides a feasible solution. Film/television programs are the expression and substantiveness of culture ( Yi et al., 2020 ). Tourism as an economic carrier is the pattern and standardization of the industry ( Yen and Croy, 2016 ). The development of film-induced tourism relies on the mutual integration of culture and industry.

With the evolution of the world, sustainable development is leading the way in every industry including tourism. The early understanding of sustainable development in the academic community refers to meeting the needs of the current generation without damaging the needs of future generations’ development ( Jabareen, 2008 ; Yi et al., 2021a ). Based on this concept, the United Nations has formulated 17 sustainable development goals, proposed new standards for the prosperity and development of the earth, and standardized the assessment methods and indicators for sustainable development ( Böhringer and Jochem, 2007 ; Hacking and Guthrie, 2008 ; Singh et al., 2009 ). Since then, the concept of sustainable development has been fully implemented and has gradually become a well-known concept from the perspectives of the environment, economy, and society ( Adedoyin et al., 2021 ; Diep et al., 2021 ; Zhou et al., 2021 ). Currently, these three dimensions are identified as the motivations and mechanisms of sustainable development ( Steffen et al., 2015 ; Svensson and Wagner, 2015 ). Specifically, challenges in sustainable development are vital issues for exploring social and economic development. Economic benefits are the main dynamics of continuous action ( Hoogendoorn et al., 2015 ), with social effects as the main motivation of practice ( Williams and Schaefer, 2013 ), and environmental effects as the basic assurances of all activities ( Halme and Korpela, 2014 ). Hence, sustainable development research help explore the path of the industry development. The dynamic mechanism of sustainable development builds the foundation for the long-term influence of the culture and provides the way for continuous development and expansion of industrial effects ( Waheed et al., 2020 ). At present, to the best of our knowledge, very few studies have investigated the dynamic mechanism of the sustainable development for film-induced tourism. The existing studies which include the sustainable development dynamic mechanism can be divided into three aspects:

(1) The macro sustainable development concept of film-induced tourism ( Wen et al., 2018 ); (2) The sustainable development concept in the exploration of film-induced tourism ( Gong and Tung, 2017 ; Teng, 2021 ); (3) The micro sustainable development concept of film-induced tourism ( Suni and Komppula, 2012 ). Afterward, most of the studies believe that the dynamic mechanism of sustainable development is affected by its resource development, innovation mode, or artistic attractions. However, these have not yet conducted a quantitative study of the endogenous interactions between culture and industry. Accordingly, we try to fill the research gap; we study the relationship between culture and industry in film-induced tourism through structural equation modeling to promote the sustainable development dynamics brought about the integration of culture and industry.

Literature Review

Film-induced culture and tourism industry.

Film-induced culture plays a vital role in the global advertisement system. It is an effective approach for the advertisement of regional values and soft power, and it is a good pathway for cultural output and value proposition ( Yi et al., 2020 ). With the advance of economic development, consumers have broken the restrictions of basic needs spending ( Sun et al., 2017 , 2021 ; Du et al., 2020 ), and the needs for higher-level cultural consumption are becoming increasingly important ( Wang et al., 2020a , b ; Li et al., 2021 ). Film-induced culture is by no means limited to entertainment culture, and film-induced products are by no means limited to spiritual and cultural consumer goods ( Chen, 2018 ). Film/television is also a mass media. Film-induced culture has an unprecedented impact on people’s ways of thinking, social cognition, behavioral habits, and values, showing unique cultural tension and becoming an important structure of people’s spiritual life ( Misra, 2000 ; Janssen et al., 2008 ). Otherwise, as a fast-growing important new tourism trend, film-induced tourism creates connections between characters, places, stories, and tourists, and is inspired to immerse themselves in films to relive film-generated and film-driven emotions ( Riley et al., 1998 ). Essentially, both film and tourism provide an opportunity to relive or experience, see and learn novelties through entertainment and fun ( Teng, 2021 ). Film-induced tourism increases the overall economic effect of tourism industry and establishes the bonds of film and tourism industry. It provides not only pleasure and satisfaction for film-induced tourists, but also adequate and novel learning experience. The latest research trends are moving toward merging or collaborating two fields that already have similar goals.

The integration of film-induced culture spreads information through film-induced programs to “maximize” the effect of tourism cultural brands ( Huang and Liu, 2018 ). The fundamental reason is that the penetration of film-induced culture has driven the transformation and upgrading of tourism consumption ( Michael et al., 2020 ), which in turn makes film-induced culture a resource for tourism development, amplifies the effect of cultural integration in the process of transformation, and further enhances the influence of the tourism industry ( Marafa et al., 2020 ). The establishment of film-induced cities and film-induced bases creates the advantages of film-induced culture agglomeration, and the innovative path of developing film-induced cultural resources oriented by the tourism industry is becoming more and more popular ( Ringle, 2018 ). Cultural resources are further optimized and reorganized, and film-induced culture will gain a series of new integrated development in the promotion of tourism industry model ( Xin and Mossig, 2017 ). On the one hand, the film-induced bases can be used for film/television production, and on the other hand, it is an important place for tourism activities, which truly reflects the integration from products, markets, enterprises, and industries in film-induced tourism industry ( Stuckey, 2021 ). Accordingly, some researchers believe that the establishment of Hollywood Studios in 1963 marked the official beginning of film-induced tourism. Hence, film-induced culture can promote the tourism industry to shape brand culture, integrate useful resources, guide consumer trends, and induce convergence effect for rapid development and innovation ( Wu and Lai, 2021 ). Hence, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H1a: The development of film-induced culture is positively related to the growth of the tourism industry.
H1b: The cultural development in film-induced tourism is positively correlated to the degree of cultural and tourism integration.
H1c: The development of the tourism industry is positively correlated to the degree of culture and tourism integration.

Culture and Tourism Integration and Sustainable Development

The integration of culture and tourism is not only the objective need for the mutual prosperity of culture and tourism, but also the inevitable trend of the development. The elements compete, cooperate and co-evolve with each other, so that an emerging industry can be formed, and it has experienced “grinding-integration-harmony” of the dynamic development process ( Jovicic, 2016 ; Wang and Yi, 2020 ). Culture and tourism have a certain basis for mutual benefit and cooperation: for tourism, the integration of cultural-related content helps to acquire extensive knowledge, distant experience, and strong care; for culture, it is conducive to the protection and inheritance of cultural resources, image building, and propagation ( Loulanski and Loulanski, 2011 ; Jørgensen and McKercher, 2019 ). The integration of culture and tourism is an intimate contact between “poems and dreams,” which better meets people’s diverse needs for a beautiful life ( He et al., 2021 ). However, sustainable development refers to comprehensive and sustainable advancements in ecological, social, and economic aspects. The cognition that based on these three goals can be used to explore the dynamic mechanism for sustainable development of film-induced tourism.

In the dimension of sustainable ecological development, with the advent of the scientific revolution and the industrial revolution, the world is entering a new era. The utilization of resources is not limited to the development of physical resources but is more prone to the rational use of new resources, such as talented person, technology, intelligence, and data ( Waheed et al., 2020 ; Zhang et al., 2020 ; Li et al., 2021 ), cultural resources, such as historical culture, red culture, and folk culture, are integrated with tourism resources, such as landscape pastoral, to develop complementary advantages. The maximization of resource utilization has become the key to the sustainable development of the film-induced tourism society, and culture has become a regulator of various innovation factors, which promotes the scientific management of technological and industrial resources ( Delai and Takahashi, 2011 ; Liu et al., 2021b ). When transforming and utilizing film-induced cultural resources, do not trample or destroy the ecological environment for tourism development, and comprehensively optimize the tourism environment and tourism routes. Environmentalism and related laws and regulations have begun to pay attention to tourists’ needs ( Li et al., 2020 ). Hence, the further integration of culture and tourism can reflect the transformation of the overall ecological commitment ( Zhou et al., 2021 ), and the resulting human–environment relationship has become a new aspect of sustainable development.

In the dimension of sustainable social development, on the one hand, the improvement of cultural quality of the whole society is a prerequisite for the organic integration of culture and tourism ( Tien et al., 2021 ), with harmonious coexistence becoming the core aspect of economic and cultural development of the new era, tourists and other stakeholders of the film-induced tourism industry begins to focus on human capital development, social recognition, job creation, and health and safety-related issues ( Choi and Ng, 2011 ). With the deepening of research, researchers found that the above-mentioned problems are ideologically attributed to culture and are the society’s force for inducing the sustainable development of industries ( Cai and Zhou, 2014 ). The extension and connotation of tourism need the guidance of tourism culture. Cultural display or visitable production expands the scope of displayable culture, from material to non-material, to the integration of non-material and material, and then to the contemporary creative cultural display, which makes culture continuously “commoditized” ( Silberberg, 1995 ; Marques and Pinho, 2021 ). At present, many scholars have reached a consensus that the integration of culture and industry can promote the construction of the social community ( Jakhar, 2017 ; Yi et al., 2021b ) and promote the relevant members of the society to change their misconduct, thereby strengthening the sustainable development of the film and television industry and the tourism industry.

In the dimension of sustainable economic development, scholars generally agree that economic factors, which refer to the renewable and non-renewable resources invested in the production process, are composed of factors, such as cost, profit, and business development ( Mamede and Gomes, 2014 ; Wagner, 2015 ). Given the direct impact of economic effect on tourist activities is significant, most researchers directly view economic factors as the main driving force for the sustainable development of film-induced tourism, owing to the direct influence of economic effects on tourists’ tourism activities ( Horbach et al., 2013 ; Hojnik and Ruzzier, 2016 ). As been defined by researchers, sustainable economic development involves the exploration and innovation of business models, creating market opportunities, the processes of resolving unsustainable environmental and social problems ( Schaltegger et al., 2016 ). When film-induced culture is continuously produced into cultural tourism products, the commercial interests of tourism sales promote the industrialization and gradually form a complete industrial chain-cultural tourism industry. In the studies of film-induced tourism, many researchers view film-induced culture as a resource for creating new business models and market opportunities and regard the integration of film-induced culture with the tourism industry as a solution for unsustainable development problems. In summary, in film-induced tourism, in both the ecological, social, and economic dimensions, the integration of culture and industry will influence the path of sustainable development. Hence, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H2a: The degree of integration between film-induced culture and the tourism industry is positively related to the sustainable development of the ecology (human–environment integration).
H2b: The degree of integration between film-induced culture and tourism industry is positively correlated to the sustainable development of the society (harmonious coexistence).
H2c: The degree of integration between film-induced culture and the tourism industry is positively related to the sustainable development of the economy.

Above all, we proposed the following effect hypothesis:

H3a: Film-induced tourism culture has a significant impact on sustainable development through integration degree;
H3b: Film-induced tourism industry has a significant impact on sustainable development through integration degree.


To get a better and professional understanding of the dynamic mechanism of the culture and industry associated with film-induced tourism, the research subjects are limited to the management staff of the film-induced tourism industry. A total of 1,200 questionnaires were distributed, and 1,054 valid questionnaires were collected, with a recovery rate of 87.8%. The collected questionnaires were randomly divided into two equal sets (527 questionnaires in each set): one dataset is used for exploratory factor analysis and the other is used for confirmatory factor analysis. The demographic characteristics of the sample population are shown in Table 1 . From Table 1 we can see, most of the responders are males (accounting for 68.9%), in the age groups of 25–35 and 36–45 (the total number of the two age groups accounting for 65.3%) and have a bachelor’s degree (accounting for 54.9%). 28% of the responders are tourism area managers; 34.7% of the responders are government department managers; and 37.3% of the responders are general staff. And the demographic characteristics of the responders generally follow the demographic distribution of the entire population in the area, indicating a good representativeness of the data and makes it an effective data source.


Table 1 . Sample basic information.

We draw on the mature scales used in previous studies for reference, and the initial scale was formed after corresponding modifications according to research topic. Then, two scholars who have been engaged in film-induced tourism and sustainable development were invited for analysis and discussion, and the scale was modified and improved. We use 5-level Likert scale to measure all variables, with 1 indicating “very unimportant” and 5 indicating “very important.” The specific measurement items and reliability are shown in the appendix. In addition, SPSS 26.0 was used for validity test, and KMO was 0.906 (>0.8). The results show that the scale has good reliability and validity, indicating that there is internal consistency among the variables ( Table 2 ).


Table 2 . Measurement items and reliability.

Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) showed ( Table 3 ) that P<0.01, and the Composite Reliability of all variables was 0.622–0.865, so that the polymerization validity and the convergence validity is good. AVE was in a reasonable range. Therefore, the results of CFA all meet the standard, and all dimensions have good convergence validity.


Table 3 . Confirmatory factor analysis.

Correlation Analysis

Through the correlation coefficient test, it can be seen that the values below the diagonal are, respectively, the correlation coefficients between potential variables ( Table 4 ). Each potential variable has different connotations in theory, and each variable has relatively high correlation and good discriminant validity.


Table 4 . Correlation analysis.

Goodness of Fit of the Structural Model

Based on the previous research results, the path relationship diagram between potential variables and observed variables has been built, the goodness of fit of the model to be verified have been tested from AMOS 26.0. The main fitting indicators all meet the ideal standard, that is, the model fitting effect is ideal.

Hypothesis Testing

In order to further test the hypothesis proposed above, we run a structural equation model with mediation (see Figure 1 ). The results are shown in Table 5 . There is a correlation between film-induced culture and film-induced industry ( r  = 0.720). Film-induced culture has a significant impact on the degree of integration ( r  = 0.590, C R  = 7.495, p  < 0.01); The film-induced tourism industry has a significant impact on the degree of integration ( r  = 0.441, C R  = 6.326, p  < 0.01), then hypothesis 1a, 1b, 1c are supported. The degree of integration has a significant positive impact on film-induced tourism ( r  = 0.836, C R  = 11.817, p  < 0.01), so hypothesis 2a, 2B, and 2C are also supported.


Figure 1 . Structural equation model. FTC, film-induced tourism culture; FTI: film-induced tourism industry; DOI, degree of integration; SD, sustainable development of film-induced industry; IRBV, integrated resource-based view; IEBV, integrated ecology-based view; ISBV, integrated space-based view; ES, economic sustainability; HEC, human–environment coordination; HC, harmonious coexistence.


Table 5 . Goodness of fit of the structural model.

Empirical Testing of Mediating Effects

In order to test the reliability of the path hypothesis, we further use Bootstrapping to calculate the mediating effect of culture and tourism integration. Bootstrapping test performs 3,000 samplings and selects a 95% confidence interval, then the final test results are shown in Table 6 , so both hypothesis H3a and H3b are assumed to hold ( Table 7 ).


Table 6 . Hypothesis testing.


Table 7 . Empirical testing of mediating effects.

Given previous scholars’ studies on film-induced tourism ( Ringle, 2018 ; Marafa et al., 2020 ), we assume that cultural tourism will significantly affect the dynamic mechanism of sustainable development. More specifically, we believe that the organic integration of film-induced culture and tourism industry will have a significant impact on economic, social, and ecological sustainable development, which are the three dimensions of sustainable development. The results generally support our hypothesis that we view culture and tourism as a systematic whole rather than separate them and that culture and tourism integration is not simply “culture + tourism” or “tourism + culture.” We also confirm that the degree of integration of film-induced culture and tourism industry plays an important mediate role in the sustainable development of film-induced tourism. Although culture and tourism seem to be combined with each other in contemporary society, they have not developed the sustainable development dynamics of products and services innovation, nor developed a systematic operation mechanism. Consequently, the integration of culture and tourism is not to mechanically copy the two independent elements, but the key lies in the functional replacement and format innovation, complementary advantages, and the optimal combination of industrial elements.

Managerial Implications

As culture and tourism are two huge and complex systems, both have relatively mature management operation mechanism, working path, industrial rules, and industry norms, while they are currently characterized by high growth and rapid development ( Richards, 2018 ; McKercher, 2020 ). Therefore, in constructing the path of the integration of culture and tourism to promote sustainable development, the resource characteristics, functional differences, and technological advantages of film-induced culture and tourism industry should be fully considered in theory, and their similarity and relevance should be taken into account. In practice, we should not only make full use of the location conditions, resource endowments, and social and economic systems of film-induced culture and tourism destinations, but constantly identify the intersection points of products, industries, and enterprises according to the changes in market demand, and construct diversified industrial integration modes according to local conditions to determine develop directions in the integration of resources, technology, market and products, and administrative management.

From the perspective of tourism industry, support the development of organization forms that meet the needs of film-induced tourism development. The integration of industry should finally be reflected in the integration of organizations. Although the fundamental dynamics for the development of film-induced tourism is the development of market demand ( Connell, 2005 ), it needs enterprises to be discovered and satisfied to find business opportunities. We suggest relevant departments relax film-induced tourism business licensing, strengthen information services, support enterprises to explore new business areas, support various cooperation, and even merger and acquisitions. From the perspective of film-induced culture, enrich the cultural connotation of film-induced tourism. Film-induced tourism should not be equated with general implanted advertising or simply build film-induced bases, but should dig deeply into the cultural connotation of film-induced tourism, closely focus on the core theme of film/television works, and deeply develop “post-film products” related to tourism derivative industry, and then systematically integrate them to form a cross-industry and compound film-induced tourism industry chain ( Young and Young, 2008 ; Fan and Yu, 2021 ). In order to promote sustainable development, we further suppose that we should strengthen the research on film-induced tourism and explore the development mode and regulations of film-induced tourism.

Limitations and Future Directions

This study provides some enlightenments on the theoretical exploration and practical management of film-induced tourism. Inevitably, there are several limitations, which can be addressed in future studies. First, the verification of the hypotheses is through the empirical analysis of collected questionnaires, lacking the support of actual cases. This can be improved by case analysis in follow-up studies. Second, the degree of integration between culture and industry is measured and defined by their characteristics in this study. However, the integration may also be affected by their underlying relationship. Their spatial production characteristics are also valuable for further investigation. In summary, in this research, the dynamic mechanism for sustainable development of film-induced tourism has been investigated, and conclusions have been drawn. This topic, however, still requires in-depth follow-up investigations from the research community.

Data Availability Statement

The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/supplementary material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.

Ethics Statement

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by School of Economics and Management, East China Jiaotong University, Nanchang, China. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study. Written informed consent was obtained from the individual(s) for the publication of any potentially identifiable images or data included in this article.

Author Contributions

KY contributed to the empirical work, the analysis of the results, and the writing of the first draft. JinZ and JiaZ supported the total work of the KY. YZ and CX contributed to overall quality and supervision the part of literature organization and empirical work. RT contributed to developing research hypotheses and revised the overall manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

This project was supported by the General Project of the National Social Science Fund of China: Tracking Research on the Development of Western Urban Politics (20BZZ055), General project of Humanities and Social Sciences General Research Program of the Ministry of Education: Research on the Generation Mechanism and Resolution Path of “Fragmentation Phenomenon” of Urban Social Governance (19YJA810002), Social Science Planning General Project in Jiangxi Province (No. 21XW06), Jiangxi Province Culture and Art Science Planning General Project (No. YG2021087), and Jiangxi Province Colleges Humanities and Social Science Project (No. GL20214).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

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Keywords: film-induced tourism, tourism destination, sustainable development, dynamic mechanism, culture and industry integration

Citation: Yi K, Zhu J, Zeng Y, Xie C, Tu R and Zhu J (2022) Sustainable Development for Film-Induced Tourism: From the Perspective of Value Perception. Front. Psychol . 13:875084. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.875084

Received: 13 February 2022; Accepted: 13 May 2022; Published: 03 June 2022.

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Copyright © 2022 Yi, Zhu, Zeng, Xie, Tu and Zhu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Yanqin Zeng, [email protected]

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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growth of film induced tourism

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Film-Induced Tourism

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  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Channel View Publications
  • Copyright year: 2005
  • Main content: 280
  • Keywords: film tourism ; destination marketing ; film and place promotion ; film-induced tourism ; film studio tourism ; film industry ; cinema industry ; tourism and visual media ; community development ; movie-based holiday packages
  • Published: May 17, 2005
  • ISBN: 9781845410162

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Exploring the Benefits of Film Tourism

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Film tourism is a growing phenomenon worldwide, motivated by both the growth of the entertainment industry and the increase in international travel. By Leonie Berning.

Table of Contents

What is film tourism?

Film-induced tourism explores the effects that film and TV-productions have on the travel decisions made when potential tourists plan their upcoming holiday or visit to a destination.

Films, documentaries, TV-productions and commercials inspire people to experience the locations seen in the content screened, to explore new destinations. Film tourism is an excellent vehicle for destination marketing and also creates opportunities for product and community entrepreneur development such as location tours or film heritage museums to name but a few.

One of the best examples of film-induced niche tourism relates to ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy, filmed in New Zealand. Research studies revealed that at least 72% of the current and potential international tourists visiting New Zealand, had seen at least one of the trilogy films.  Although this is no concrete evidence that their destination choice was as a result of the films, it was definitely a motivating component.

In a demonstration to of the power of film to raise the profile of New Zealand and reveal the influence a film has in destination choices for tourists, more than two-thirds of the tourists questioned agreed that they would visit the country as a result of the movie.  (source: Film-Induced Tourism by Sue Beeton).

Exploring the Benefits of Film Tourism

Film tourism and destination branding

Integrating film tourism with destination branding has an even bigger spin-off effect on tourism. “A decade after Jackson’s three-film adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings emerged to critical and popular acclaim, the countdown to ‘The Hobbit’ – in its film form, also a trilogy – began shortly after in earnest”.

In earnest and in fact: Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown unveiled a giant clock, complete with an image of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, counting down the minutes to the 28 November premiere.  The clock sits atop the Embassy Theatre, the handsome 1920s cinema that will host the screening. A bevvy of international stars, led, it’s safe to predict, by Freeman, will return to Wellington to walk the red carpet down Courtenay Place. The last time the 500m carpet was unrolled, for the world premiere of ‘The Return of the King’ in 2003, about 120,000 people came to watch the procession. Organisers expect a similar turnout this time. “It will be a real carnival atmosphere,” promises Wade-Brown.

According to Tourism New Zealand, an average of 47,000 visitors each year visit a film location.  Following the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, six per cent of visitors (around 120,000 – 150,000 people) cite The Lord of the Rings as being one of the main reasons for visiting New Zealand. One per cent of visitors said that the Lord of the Rings was their main or only reason for visiting. This one per cent related to approximately NZ$32.8m in spend.

There is nothing subtle about efforts to piggyback. The national tourism slogan “100% Pure New Zealand” has become “100% Middle-earth” , while in the days leading up to the premiere Wellington will be ‘renamed’ as “Middle of Middle-earth”.

It is all a huge contrast from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ experience. Back then, tourist operators felt “ambushed” by fans of the films, says Melissa Heath, owner of Southern Lakes Sightseeing, which specialises in ‘Lord of the Rings’ location tours. “I don’t think anyone in New Zealand was ready for it.”

Britain has been a destination for over a hundred international film and television productions over the past decade. The filming of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’ had a surge of tourists as a result.  Films such as ‘Braveheart’ resulted in a 300% increase of tourism a year after its release in cinemas and the release of the film “Troy” resulted in a 72% increase for tourism in Turkey.

Film-induced tourism and destination branding are one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism currently.  However, there are some key issues that need to be considered before promoting a location for film productions and tourism. Applying responsible tourism practices, creating a film-friendly environment in advance, through community participation and awareness campaigns, safety and security, service excellence and understanding the impact of destination branding to name but a few, especially in South Africa where film tourism is still a fairly unexplored concept.

Film tourism provides an abundance of community and product development opportunities if approached responsibly and applied correctly. It is a fast-paced industry, driven by creative passion, positive energy and tremendous enthusiasm, which I believe can be cross-pollinated into the tourism and services sector.

For more information email [email protected] or visit www.etc-africa.com

About the author: Leonie Berning is a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission Executive Board of Directors. With a collective seventeen years in human relations, eco-tourism, marketing and film industry experience, exploring and exposing the opportunities for film tourism and identifying film industry scarce skills and infrastructure needs, are her priorities. As a Consulting Manager and part of a project team for ETC-Africa, in partnership with Enterprise iLembe, uThungulu District Municipality and Umhlosinga Development Agency, Leonie successfully set up and managed the Zulu Coast Film Office project from 1 January 2011 – 30 March 2012.

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Environmental sustainability and tourism growth: convergence or compensation?

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  • Published: 29 May 2024

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growth of film induced tourism

  • Viviana Torres-Díaz 1 , 2 ,
  • María de la Cruz del Río-Rama   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-9396-9341 3 ,
  • José Álvarez-García 4 &
  • Biagio Simonetti 5 , 6 , 7  

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In addition to the socio-economic advantages, tourism has been proven to be one of the most important sectors with adverse environmental effects. Therefore, this study examines the relationship between tourism and environmental sustainability by using a panel data from 32 countries in Latin America and the European Union for the period 2000–2019. Several techniques of cointegration and convergence of clusters are used to meet this objective. The empirical results show that on average, tourism growth has a negative impact on the environment in the two groups of countries, which could be attributed to the heterogeneity of the level of regional tourism development. On the other hand, the convergence of tourism growth and environmental sustainability is evident at different adjustment speeds in the different sample panels. It generates empirical evidence on whether the current expansion of the tourism sector in Latin American and European countries entails significant environmental externalities by using the ecological footprint variable as an indicator of environmental sustainability and foreign tourist arrivals as an economic indicator.

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1 Introduction

Over the past decades, countries have experienced rapid economic growth around the world (Koengkan et al. 2019 ). In line with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), more than 900 million tourists made international trips during the year 2022, twice as many as in 2021. This figure is 63% of the pre-pandemic level. In general, the number of international tourists has increased in all regions of the world. Europe, with 585 million arrivals in 2022, has reached almost 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Africa and North, Central and South America reached about 65% of pre-pandemic visitor levels (UNWTO 2023 ).

Tourism is one of the important factors that can affect the environmental and economic situation of any economy (Ozturk et al. 2023 ). Thus, tourism and economic growth have been found to go hand in hand, especially in tourist destinations (Adedoyin et al. 2021 ). In addition, tourism transfers economic income from developed to developing countries (Danish and Wang 2018 ). However, despite the benefits that tourism provides, it also affects environmental quality, as increased international tourism not only stimulates economic growth, but also increases energy consumption (Bojanic and Warnick 2020 ; Danish and Wang 2018 ) and the use of products derived from the extraction of natural resources (Robaina-Alves et al. 2016 ).

Therefore, most of the empirical and theoretical studies have argued that tourism contributes significantly to environmental degradation (Shahbaz et al. 2021 ; Danish and Wang 2018 ), so this relationship has been studied from two perspectives. The first perspective focuses on testing the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis, which is an inverted U-shaped relationship between pollutants and economic growth. Based on Kuznets ( 1955 ), this theory was put forth by scholars Grossman and Krueger ( 1991 ). According to this idea, economic expansion affects environmental degradation as measured by CO 2 emissions to a point when it becomes sustainable and has a negative influence (Arbulú et al. 2015 ; Ozturk et al. 2016 ; Mikayilov et al. 2019 ; Anser et al. 2020 ; Fethi and Senyucel 2021 ; Porto and Ciaschi 2021 ; Gao et al. 2021 ). The second perspective includes research that examines the relationship between tourism growth and environmental degradation (De Vita et al. 2015 ; Zaman et al. 2016 ; Pablo-Romero et al. 2019 ; Alizadeh 2020 ; Anser et al. 2020 ).

Most of these studies (Kusumawardani and Dewi 2020 ; Rahman 2020 ; Mohammed et al. 2015 ; Ozturk and Al-Mulali 2015 ; Galeotti et al. 2006 ) have analyzed the relationship between tourism growth and environmental degradation based on the variables of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. According to Ozturk et al. ( 2023 ), the empirical findings point to a mix of favorable and unfavorable effects of visitor arrivals and CO 2 emissions in the majority of tourist locations. Environmental degradation has been shown to be a multifaceted phenomenon with a variety of indicators, which requires a comprehensive assessment of the state of the environment (Wackernagel and Rees 1998 ; Saqib and Benhmad 2021a , b ; Pulido-Fernández et al. 2019 ).

In this regard, some studies (Saqib and Benhmad 2021a , b ; Satrovic and Adedoyin 2022 ) have found that the ecological footprint is a more accurate tool for measuring and visualizing the resources that sustain the planet because it considers how dependent humans are on the environment in order support a lifestyle (Kyara et al. 2022 ; Saqib and Benhmad 2021a , b ; Elshimy and El-Aasar 2020 ; Figge et al. 2017 ; Ozturk et al. 2016 ; Rojas-Downing et al. 2018 ). In line with this, Gössling ( 2000 ) points out that the relationship between tourism expansion and carbon emissions, as well as evidence of the detrimental effects of fossil fuels used in the industry on the environment are some aspects of the impact of tourism growth on the ecological footprint.

As a result, the main objective of this study is to assess how tourism growth and environmental sustainability in Latin America and the European Union are related. Due to the lack of comprehensive statistical data for all the countries in the region and for all the years, the statistical data from 14 Latin American countries and 18 European countries were used between 2000 and 2019. In order to do this, the present research used convergence cluster analysis, generalized least squares (DOSL), cointegration analysis using unit root and causality tests to examine the relationship between the ecological footprint (global hectares per capita) and the number of international tourist arrivals.

In addition, this study also contributes two important elements to the literature on tourism. First, it generates empirical evidence on whether the current expansion of the tourism sector in Latin American and European countries entails significant environmental externalities by using the ecological footprint variable as an indicator of environmental sustainability and foreign tourist arrivals as an economic indicator. Second, the research ranks nations based on the likelihood that their environmental performance will be covered, considering the fact that environmental sustainability can be influenced by tourism growth. To do this, the convergence club method presented by Phillips and Su ( 2007 ) is used, which finds three convergence groups with the potential for the final two groups to merge into a single club.

Following this introduction, the study will be divided into the following sections: Sect.  2 presents the bibliographical and empirical review on the topic. In Sect.  3 , two sections are presented: in the first section, the description of the data and bibliographical sources; and, in the second section, the methodologies used are described. Section  4 shows the results obtained, while Sect.  5 provides a discussion of the findings. The last section presents the conclusions obtained.

2 Theoretical framework

There is a significant and growing interest in the connection between tourism and the environment within the analysis of the literature and empirical evidence, which suggests that this relationship can be studied from two relevant aspects. The first aspect explores the causal relationship of tourism on environmental degradation. For example, Usman et al. ( 2021 ) investigate the causal link in Asian countries and find that tourism is what is influencing the region’s environmental degradation. On the other hand, Shi et al. ( 2020 ) find a two-way causal relationship in high-income economies around the world. Other research, such as that by Lee and Brahmasrene ( 2013 ) and de Vita et al. ( 2015 ) explores this connection along with electrical energy use, demonstrating the beneficial impact of tourism on environmental degradation; while Zaman et al. ( 2016 ) determine an inverse relationship between the variables considered for an analysis in three regions of the world. According to Lv and Xu ( 2023 ), tourism always has a major detrimental impact on environmental performance, meaning that environmental deterioration will inevitably come from tourism, regardless of how developed the industry is. On the other hand, tourism will comparatively have less of an impact on environmental performance after it reaches a certain level of development.

The second aspect examines whether the EKC hypothesis caused by tourism actually exists. Kuznets ( 1955 ) investigated “the inverted U-shaped relationship between income inequality and per capita income”. Subsequently, the pioneering study by Grossman and Krueger ( 1991 ) analyzed the connection between air quality and income growth. This study provided evidence supporting the Kuznets curve. Numerous empirical studies that explored and validated the EKC hypothesis in global tourism have been conducted in recent years (Ozturk et al. 2016 ; Fethi and Senyucel 2021 ) by groups of countries (Anser et al. 2020 ; Adedoyin et al. 2021 ), in Latin America (Pablo-Romero et al. 2019 ; Ochoa-Moreno et al. 2022 ) and Europe (Arbulú et al. 2015 ; Saqib and Benhmad 2021a , b ). In this same line, Ekonomou and Halkos ( 2023 ) processes regression tests of contemporary panels that consider possible structural ruptures and phenomena of cross-dependence in panel data. Empirical findings confirm the EKC hypothesis, while business tourism expenses, capital investment expenses and domestic travel and tourism consumption have a negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to demonstrate the link between environmental degradation and tourism growth in many industrialized and emerging economies, Table  1 aggregates empirical studies. However, the results differ in terms of policy implications, methods and geographical location. In addition, there are limited studies in both the Latin American region (Alizadeh 2020 ; Porto and Ciaschi 2021 ; Ochoa-Moreno et al. 2022 ), as well as in the application of the ecological footprint variable as a more comprehensive indicator of environmental degradation (Kyara et al. 2022 ; Saqib and Benhmad 2021a , b ; Elshimy and El-Aasar 2020 ; Figge et al. 2017 ; Ozturk et al. 2016 ; Rojas-Downing et al. 2018 ).

It is significant to highlight that the above examines the EKC hypothesis using only one indicator of environmental pollution, namely carbon dioxide emissions, and is restricted to a one-dimensional consumption-based study. In this regard, Wackernagel and Rees ( 1998 ) state that environmental degradation is a multidimensional phenomenon and is represented by several indicators, not only as a result of ongoing carbon emissions, but also of the loss of fish species, reduction of grazing land and reduction of crops (Global Footprint Network 2021 ). For example, according to Ehigiamusoe et al. ( 2023 ), the ecological footprint and carbon emissions reflect various aspects of environmental degradation highlighting the imperative for nations to take into account the interaction between globalization and tourism in their effort to ensure environmental sustainability.

In addition, because the biocapacity available is ignored, it restricts our knowledge of the dynamics of environmental stresses. According to Destek and Sarkodie ( 2019 ), the biocapacity of a nation has a substantial impact on the outcome of the EKC hypothesis. In line with this, Khan et al. ( 2019 ) found decreasing forest cover has a variety of negative effects, such as droughts, unpredictable rainfall and flash floods. In order to reduce climate change and its effects, it is crucial to analyze the ecological footprint of growing economies (Destek and Sarkodie 2019 ).

On the other hand, regarding the methodology implemented in several of the studies presented in this section, the relationship between tourism and the environment is analyzed mainly based on some common econometric techniques. However, this research seeks to broaden the analysis of the relationship from convergence, alluding to the idea that over time, the per capita production of all economies will converge (Du 2017 ), adapting and expanding it to tourism and sustainability, based on the study by Simo-Kengne ( 2022 ), who builds a tourism sustainability index and analyzes the convergence of tourism growth and environmental sustainability in 148 countries for the period from 2006 to 2016.

A number of studies (Baumol 1986 ; Bernard and Durlauf 1995 ; Barro and Sala-I-Martin 1997 ; Lee et al. 1997 ; Luginbuhl and Koopman 2004 ) have helped to establish techniques for convergence testing and to empirically investigate the convergence hypothesis in various countries and areas. Convergence analysis has recently been used to examine a variety of different topics, including the cost of living (Phillips and Sul 2007 ), carbon dioxide emissions (Panopoulou and Pantelidis 2009 ), eco-efficiency (Camarero et al. 2013 ), housing prices (Montanés and Olmos 2013), corporate taxation (Regis et al. 2015 ), etc.

Using a non-linear time-varying component model, Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) suggested a unique method (called the “log t” regression test) to evaluate the convergence hypothesis. The following are the benefits of the suggested strategy: First, it considers the diverse behavior of agents and their evolution. Second, the proposed test is robust to the stationarity property of the series, since it does not make any specific assumptions regarding trend stationarity or stochastic non-stationarity. Subsequently, Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) demonstrated certain flaws in conventional convergence tests for economic development. Due to missing variables and endogeneity problems, the Solow regression estimate enhanced under transient heterogeneity, for instance, is biased and inconsistent. Due to the fact that the presence of a unit root in the series differential does not always imply divergence, conventional cointegration tests frequently lack the sensitivity required to detect asymptotic motion.

The potential existence of convergence clubs is another recurring concern in convergence analysis. Traditional studies generally divide all participants into subgroups based on some previous knowledge (e.g., geographical region, institution), and then test the convergence hypothesis for each subgroup separately. A new algorithm was created by Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) to locate subgroups of convergence in clusters. The algorithm developed is a data-based approach that does not separate samples ex ante. Some typical models are compatible with the relative transition parameter method presented by Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) to characterize individual variations. To put people into groups with comparable transition paths, it can be used as a universal panel approach.

In this regard, the present research aims to fill the gaps identified in the aforementioned bibliography. Firstly, by expanding the analysis of the convergence of the relationship between tourism growth and environmental sustainability. Secondly, a proxy for environmental degradation for the Latin American and European regions using new indicators and with more comprehensive dimensions.

3 Methodology

The data used in this study were taken from the World Bank (2022) and Global Footprint Network ( 2021 ). The variables extracted are the ecological footprint (ECO), which serves as the dependent variable in this study, and the number of international arrivals (TUR), which serves as the independent variable. This study covers 32 countries (Latin America, 14 and the European Union, 18) during the period 2000–2019. With 640 observations over the 20-year period and 32 countries, the variables provide a fully balanced panel over the 20-year period (t = 1, 2, …, 20), and 32 countries (i = 1, 2, …, 32).

Within countries, measured in global hectares per person, the ecological footprint is more stable than between them. Within countries, the standard deviation (SD) is 0.33, and between countries, it is 1.47. Similarly, the within-country variation in tourist revenues (log) (TUR) is lower than between countries. In comparison to the standard deviation across countries, which is 0.58, the standard deviation within countries is 0.32 (Table  2 ).

The annual evolution on average of the ecological footprint and the arrival of international tourists for Latin American countries can be observed in Fig.  1 . The trend of the dependent variable is constant, i.e., the ecological footprint is constant over the length of the study period in the sample of Latin American countries; while the independent variable is positive, i.e., it shows a constant increase in the study period (Table  3 ).

figure 1

Average ecological footprint and tourist arrivals in 14 Latin American countries

Figure  2 shows the average annual changes in the ecological footprint and the number of foreign visitors for the European Union member states. As can be seen, the independent variable has a positive trend throughout the study period and the dependent variable has a negative trend, which means that the ecological footprint in the sample of European countries has maintained an average decrease.

figure 2

Average ecological footprint and tourist arrivals in 18 European Union countries

Over time you can see how Latin American countries converge in terms of sustainability and tourism growth; Meanwhile, the countries of the European Union diverge in terms of tourism and environmental sustainability, especially in the last years of the study; However, this differs depending on the macroeconomic conditions of each country; this is expanded upon in the results and discussion section once the cluster convergence method has been applied.

3.2 Methodology

The empirical research follows a four-step process in line with the research objective of examining the convergence and interaction between the ecological footprint and international tourism growth in a panel of 32 countries from 2000 to 2019. The stationarity of the variables under study is first verified as a prerequisite in the first phase. The cointegration test is used in the second phase to assess whether there is stationarity between the variables under study in the long run. The third phase consists of estimating the fictitious cointegration connection in order to describe its dynamics, including how quickly it adjusts to long-term equilibrium and the short- and long-term effects. The causality analysis that comes at the end of this process, which considers the direction of the effects and any potential externalities to the research variables, is important for the creation of policy implications. The connection between tourism and environmental impact can be expressed as follows:

If the logarithm of tourism is considered in Eq.  1 , it is formulated as follows:

The ecological footprint of country \(i\) as a whole during period \(t\) is represented by log \({(ECO)}_{i,t}\) , the logarithm of tourism during period \(t\) is represented by \(\log (TUR)_{i,t}\) , and the error term is represented by \(\varepsilon_{i,t}\) . The results at this stage are interesting because they show the direction and strength of the effect of the relationship between independent and dependent variables.

The unit root test is used to check if the series are stationary—i.e., if there is no trend effect—prior to the cointegration analysis. Levin, Lin, and Chu-LLC and Im, Pesaran, and Shin-IPS, both suggested by Levin et al. ( 2002 ) and Im et al. ( 2003 ), were the tests used. The Fisher-type test based on the ADF test (Dickey and Fuller 1981 ) and the Fisher-type test based on the PP test were also used in response to Maddala and Wu ( 1999 ), who suggested using a simpler non-parametric unit root test. This equation was used to estimate these tests:

where ∆ is the first difference operator, \({X}_{i,t}\) is the series for a member of panel (country) i during the period (i = 1, 2, … N); (t = 1, 2, … T), \({p}_{i}\) indicates the number of lags in the ADF regression, and the error term \({\varepsilon }_{i,t}\) is assumed to be independently distributed random variables and normal for all i and t mean zero and finite heterogeneous variance.

The following stage tested for long-term equilibrium between the variables under study using cointegration techniques (Pedroni 1999 , 2004 ). The panel series are compared to see if there is a long-term link by using the Pedroni ( 1999 , 2004 ) cointegration test. The panel v statistic, panel rho statistic, panel PP statistic, panel ADF statistic, and the panel statistic—group rho, group PP statistic, and group ADF statistic are all calculated using the regression of Eq. ( 3 ) in the Pedroni cointegration test (Pedroni 1999 , 2004 ):

In addition, a short-term equilibrium based on error correction models (ECVM) is present (Westerlund 2007 ). The null hypothesis of no cointegration versus cointegration between the variables used is considered at the regional level. As opposed to residual dynamics, this demonstrates structural dynamics, hence there are no restrictions on any common element. On the other hand, the error correction model developed by Westerlund in 2007 is denoted by the following notation and it is assumed that all variables are integrated in order 1 or I (1):

where d t  = (1 − t) contains the deterministic components and θ t  = (1 − t) is the vector of unknown coefficients to be estimated.

As indicated by Dumitrescu and Hurlin ( 2012 ), the Granger non-causality approach was used after calculating the equilibrium connection to take into consideration panel data heterogeneity problems. In the situation of imbalanced and heterogeneous data, the Dumitrescu-Hurlin (DH) test is a modified version of the Granger causality test that is more lenient for T < N and T > N. Equation ( 6 ) is used in the DH test:

where \({\varphi }_{i}\) is the intercept of the slope, \({\gamma }_{i}\) and \({\theta }_{i}\) are the slope coefficients, ε is the error term, and k is the number of lag lengths.

In order to investigate the presence of convergence clubs according to the Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) clustering procedure, the following steps are implemented:

(Cross section last observation ordering): Sort units in descending order according to the last panel observation of the period;

(Core group formation): Run the log-t regression for the first k units (2 < k < N) maximizing k under the condition that t-value is >−1.65. In other words, chose the core group size \({k}^{*}\) as follows:

If the condition tk > −1.65 does not hold for k = 2 (the first two units), drop the first unit and repeat the same procedure. If tk > −1.65 does not hold for any units chosen, the whole panel diverges.

The fixed-effects and random-effects models were compared using the Hausman test ( 1978 ). As a result, for each panel, the model that best fitted the test data was chosen. The modified Wald test and the Wooldridge ( 1991 ) test were also used to test for heteroscedasticity and to identify autocorrelation in the panel, highlighting the need to estimate the parameters of Eq. ( 2 ) using generalized least squares (GLS) for panel data (Wooldridge 2004 ). The results are shown for the two groups of countries (Table  4 ).

Next, the non-stationarity of the series is confirmed using unit root tests for panel data. Three tests, those of Levin et al. ( 2002 ) and Im et al. ( 2003 ), known respectively as LLC and IPS tests in the empirical literature on panel data, were applied to confirm the reliability of the findings. Comparisons were made between the results of these tests and those produced by Maddala and Wu ( 1999 ). Both with and without the effects of time were considered in the testing. According to the findings in Table  5 , the series show an order of integration (1). The existence of long-term and short-term cointegration vectors between the variables is confirmed in the following step of this research.

Pedroni ( 1999 , 2004 ) developed the cointegration test in heterogeneous panels, which allows to merge cross-sectional dependence with various individual effects, to determine the presence of a long-term equilibrium. This analytical framework, which incorporates seven repressors based on seven residual-based statistics, enables cointegration tests to be run in both heterogeneous and homogeneous panels.

The results of the seven statistics used by Pedroni ( 1999 , 2004 ) are shown in Table  6 . With varying degrees of significance, the majority of the statistics for each set of countries reject the null hypothesis of no cointegration. As a result, these findings suggest that throughout the years 2000–2019 in the groupings of countries, tourism and the ecological footprint have moved together and simultaneously.

In addition, the short-run equilibrium was calculated using an error correction model (ECVM) for panel data created by Westerlund ( 2007 ). If there is a short-run equilibrium, this implies that changes in tourism revenues will quickly result in changes in the ecological footprint. According to the data compiled in Table  7 , each group of countries is in short-term equilibrium.

Granger-type causality of the variables was established using the formalization created by (Dumitrescu and Hurlin 2012 ). In both country groupings, it was found that there are causal connections that stem from TUR → ECO (gha). In other words, changes in the number of visitors will have an impact on the ecological footprint on average in both European and Latin American countries. When considering the direction of the effects and their potential externalities to the research variables, these causal analyses are crucial for the creation of policy implications (see Table  8 ).

To do this, the Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) proposed convergence club technique is used, which finds three convergence clusters with the possibility of the two final clusters combining to form a single club. The convergence club hypothesis, which holds that countries moving from a point of environmental imbalance to their club-specific steady state trajectory belong to the same cluster, is where the three mega clubs in Table  9 come from.

Table 9 shows that there are three clubs and three divergent units in club 4 for Latin America. It lists the number of units (countries) covered for each club, as well as the beta coefficient of the log-t test and the value of the t-statistic. Since the t-value for clubs 1 and 2 is less than −1.65, the null hypothesis of convergence is rejected at the 5% level; however, the hypothesis is not rejected for club 3.

On the other hand, two clubs representing 9 and 4 countries, respectively, are shown for the 18 countries that make up the European Union, along with 5 divergent units in club 3. Given that the t-value in the two established clubs is less than −1.65 in this case, the null hypothesis of convergence is rejected at the 5% level.

The results in Fig.  3 a, b demonstrate graphically that the economies of Europe and Latin America are not close to reaching their stationary states. In addition, the last graph of each section (a) and b)) shows the comparison between the average transitory behavior of each club, where it can be more clearly identified that the path of the countries in both regions has a different pattern.

figure 3

Transition paths within each convergence club in the 14 Latin American countries and transition paths within each convergence club in the 18 European Union countries

5 Discussion

In the previous section, the results of the estimated GLS are presented, which allowed to establish the relationship of the ecological footprint based on the logarithm of international tourist arrivals, showing a negative effect on the panel of Latin America and Europe. In other words, as tourism increases, it has a positive and significant effect on the deterioration of the ecological footprint in both regions. These results are similar to those found by authors such as Porto and Ciaschi ( 2021 ) and Arbulú et al. ( 2015 ), who by using generalized least squares verified that tourism activity causes an increase in environmental degradation, measured through carbon emissions for 18 Latin American and 32 European countries. This suggests that the non-linear impact of tourism on the environmental degradation of countries is not sustainable as tourism increases, so efforts to mitigate environmental degradation from tourism must be implemented (Simo-Kengne 2022 ).

Both the existence of short-term (Westerlund 2007 ) and long-term equilibrium (Pedroni 1999 , 2004 ) have been tested using the approach. Similar methodological techniques are used by studies such as Ochoa-Moreno et al. ( 2022 ), Ghosh et al. ( 2022 ), and Saqib and Benhmad ( 2020 ) to establish equilibrium correlations in various study samples. The findings show that during the period 2000–2019, tourism growth and the ecological footprint in global hectares per capita have a combined and synchronous movement in both sets of countries. This is in line with Saqib and Benhmad’s ( 2020 ) hypothesis that the dynamics in developing countries affects how these variables are balanced. This is because the tourism industry generates significant economic advantages, while also contributing to an increase in environmental degradation. Due to the fact that these countries have not yet transitioned from traditional energy sources to more cutting-edge and environmentally friendly technology in tourism, the host country will suffer.

On the one hand, Granger’s causality (Dumitrescu and Hurlin 2012 ) showed that the ecological footprint and growth of tourism in both categories of countries had mutual causal links. In other words, the extraction and exploitation of natural resources is accelerated by the economic growth of industrialized economies, which reduces the biocapacity of the environment and increases the ecological footprint (Panayotou 1993 ). This finding is comparable to those of Destek and Asumadu ( 2018 ) and Saqib and Benhmad ( 2020 ), which found a two-way causal link. On the other hand, Ghosh et al. ( 2022 ) find a two-way causal relationship between carbon dioxide emissions, tourism and ecological footprint in the G-7 countries. Ozturk et al. ( 2023 ) who use a unique technique through quantum-in-quantum regression and Granger causality and suggest a combination of positive and negative effects of tourist arrivals and CO 2 emissions at most tourist destinations. Moreover, Ekonomou and Halkos ( 2023 ) by applying Granger’s non-causality tests to a eurozone data panel suggest that all Granger variables cause greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the convergence analysis in both regions indicates that the sample of countries selected for this study do not have convergence in environmental terms, i.e., they do not converge towards the stationary point of each convergence club created from the Phillips cluster procedure (Philips and Sul 2007 , 2009 ). These findings contrast with those made by Simo-Kengne ( 2022 ) for a sample of 148 countries, who found that the convergence of tourism growth and environmental well-being tends to adjust at varying rates depending on the sample panels. Similarly, research by Phillips and Sul ( 2007 ) found that the relative cost of living in the 19 major American metropolises does not appear to converge over time, in addition to providing a new mechanism to model and analyze the behavior of the economic transition in the presence of common growth characteristics.

6 Conclusions and political implications

The environment is a resource and an opportunity, as well as a constraint for tourism. As a result, while engaging in tourism activities might help the environment to remain sustainable, it can also worsen its condition. The overall impact depends on the nature of tourism, as well as on contextual factors like the development of technology, the level of environmental awareness, and society’s lifestyle (Pigram 1980). Thus, the aim of the study is to investigate the connection between tourism growth and the ecological footprint in 14 Latin American and 18 European countries. To find the convergence of tourism growth and environmental sustainability, the annual period between 2000 and 2019 is examined using panel cointegration techniques and the clustering procedure.

The study findings support the notion that tourism development and environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive, since increasing biocapacity has a detrimental impact on environmental sustainability. Similarly, Danish et al. ( 2019 ), Adedoyin et al. ( 2021 ), and Chu et al. ( 2017 ), all reach the conclusion that decreasing biocapacity in Beijing, Tianjin, and Heibin is what leads to ecological improvement. These studies support the finding of Danish et al. In addition, increased tourism-related activities, globalization and economic production can all have a negative impact on the environment, as demonstrated by the research of Nathaniel ( 2021 c), who found that as tourism grows, so does energy consumption, which in turn causes the release of toxic chemicals that degrade the quality of the environment.

The current study adds important elements to the analysis of the literature on the growth of tourism and the impact on the environment, making important methodological contributions by using the ecological footprint variable as an indicator of sustainability, as well as the convergence club method presented by Phillips and Su ( 2007 ) to determine the convergence of tourist and environmental sustainability. However, some theoretical limitations have been presented, such as the lack of information for all countries in the Latin American region and the European Union; and empirical, there are limited studies examining the relationship or impact of tourism growth and ecological footprint as an indicator of environmental sustainability.

From the political point of view, it is imperative that nations take decisions and do things to achieve environmental sustainability. There are two ways to fulfill this commitment, which will ensure a smaller ecological footprint and a cleaner environment. First, it is suggested that governments and organizations adopt green tourism, which can reduce soil erosion and air pollution caused by various forms of tourism-related transportation. Second, in order to fulfill environmental preservation and economic development objectives, sustainable economic production is preferable in order to limit environmentally damaging emissions (Alola et al. 2019a , 2019b ; Nathaniel et al. 2021 ). These findings suggest that policymakers should implement financial changes aimed at sustainable development, as well as assist tourism initiatives that use renewable energy sources. Furthermore, the findings suggest that these countries economic growth goals should be combined with carbon dioxide emission legislation (Koengkan et al. 2019 ).

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

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See Figs. 4 and 5 .

figure 4

Average transition path in the 14 Latin American countries

figure 5

Average transition path in the 18 European Union countries

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