British tourism demand elasticities in Mediterranean countries (2014)

William Gatt & Joseph Falzon


We use the almost ideal demand system (AIDS) model developed by Deaton and Muellbauer (1980) to estimate tourism demand elasticities for a number of Mediterranean countries (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Turkey) in relation to tourists originating from the United Kingdom during the period 1963 to 2009. Using the restrictions imposed by theory, we find that the model is able to explain developments in market shares reasonably well, despite the large and at times sudden changes in market shares over the sample period. Our share estimates indicate that while Spain and Portugal managed to keep a stable market share over time, Malta and especially Italy lost market share to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Overall, we observe that Italy and Spain have the lowest own-price elasticities, whereas Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey are expenditure inelastic holiday destinations. We also improve over the traditional treatment of the AIDS model in the literature by studying the stability of the estimated elasticities over time using recursive estimates. The results indicate that some elasticities are indeed time varying and highlight the potential pitfalls of assuming fixed and stable elasticities over a long period, as is customary in the tourism literature.

Applied Economics 2014, Vol. 46, Issue 29, pp. 3548-3561