Economic Sentiment Indicator as a Demand Determinant in Tourism: A Case of Turkey
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Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, employing approximately 220 million people and generating over 9.4% of the world's GDP. The growing contribution of tourism is accompanied by an increased interest in understanding the major factors which influence visitation levels to those countries. Therefore, finding the right variables to understand and estimate tourism demand becomes very important and challenging in policy formulations. The purpose of this study is to introduce Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) to the field of tourism demand studies. Using ESI in demand analysis, this study will assist in the ability to tap into individuals' hopes and/or worries for the present and future. The study developed a demand model in which the number of tourist arrivals to Turkey from select EU countries is used as the dependent variable. ESI along with more traditional variables such as Interest Rate, Relative Price, and Relative Exchange Rate were brought into the model as the independent demand determinants. The study utilized such econometric models as ARIMA for seasonality adjustment and ARDL Bound test approach to cointegration for the long and short-run elasticities. ESI was statistically significant in 8 countries out of 13, three of those countries had a negative coefficient and five had a positive sign as proposed by the study. The study posits that ESI is a good indicator to gauge and monitor tourism demand and adding the visitors' state of mind into the demand equation could reduce errors and increase variance in arrivals. Policy makers should monitor ESI as it fluctuates over time. Since we do not have direct influence on travelers' demand for tourism, it is imperative that we use indirect approaches such as price adjustment and creating new packages or promotional expenditures in order to influence or induce demand. Using this information generated from the study, government officials and tourism suppliers could adjust their promotional activities and expenditures in origin countries accordingly.