Tropical Geography ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (5): 1096-1109.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003383

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Impact of High-Speed Rail on Tourism Development in Ethnic Regions

Ziqiang Zhang1(), Ping Chen2, Zhongyu Yang3   

  1. 1.College of Tourism and Culture Industry, Guizhou University//Guizhou Grass-roots Social Governance Research Centre, Guiyang 550025, China
    2.Personnel Office, Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, Guiyang 550025, China
    3.College of Economics, Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, Guiyang 550025, China
  • Received:2020-10-13 Revised:2020-11-30 Online:2021-09-22 Published:2021-09-22


High-speed rail (HSR) has significantly improved the accessibility of tourist destinations, thereby promoting the increase and gathering of tourist flow. In addition to promoting the development of tourism, the HSR may exacerbate the gap in regional tourism development. Thus, the tourism economic growth effect and distribution effect of HSR opening coexist. Existing studies are controversial regarding the growth effect. Moreover, they have not considered the distribution effect. Accordingly, it is urgent to test whether the HSR can become a promotion engine for the development of regional tourism or aggravate the development gap. Using provincial panel data of 20 ethnic regions in China from 2000 to 2017, this study evaluated the applicability of the difference-in-differences (DID) method through parallel trend testing and used DID to evaluate the impact of the HSR on tourism development in ethnic regions. In addition, three factors need to be considered to ensure robust estimation results. First, a placebo test is performed. According to the counterfactual hypothesis, the opening year of the HSR is advanced by two years, and the DID is used to perform an estimation again. Second, robustness tests are conducted using semiparametric-DID to perform an estimation and DID to perform an estimation by replacing the explanatory and control variables, respectively. Finally, the endogeneity test is conducted using Two-stage least squares method. The major research conclusions are as follows: 1) Overall, HSR has promoted the development of tourism in ethnic regions, with an average increase of 16.52% in total domestic tourist arrivals and of 23.29% in total domestic tourism revenue. Thus, HSR has a growth effect on the tourism economy in ethnic areas. Furthermore, HSR does not affect the gap in total domestic tourist arrivals among ethnic regions or in total domestic tourism income among ethnic regions. Hence, HSR does not have a distribution effect on the tourism economy in ethnic regions. 2) From the perspective of robustness, after replacing the variables and estimation methods, the HSR has a significant positive impact on the total domestic tourist arrivals and domestic tourism revenue in ethnic regions. That is, while it still has the growth effect of the tourism economy, it does not have the distribution effect, indicating that the overall estimation result is relatively robust. 3) From the perspective of the impact mechanism, HSR has a significant positive impact on GDP growth and industrial structure adjustment in ethnic regions, but it has no significant impact on population at the end of the year, passenger turnover, and cargo weekly transshipment volume. That is, the HSR has diffusion and structural effects but does not have a siphon or aisle effect in ethnic areas. Thus, the tourism economic growth effect of HSR in the minority areas is mainly due to the diffusion effect of HSR. Tourist flows from central cities or regions continue to flow to relatively remote ethnic regions and, simultaneously, promote the adjustment of the industrial structure in ethnic regions. As there is no siphon or aisle effect, HSR does not aggravate the regional tourism development gap. 4) From a dynamic standpoint, the growth effect of the HSR on the tourism economy in ethnic regions still lags. As time passes since the opening of HSR, its economic effect gradually weakens. Even if the opening time of HSR is extended, the distribution effect of HSR on the tourism economy in ethnic areas is still not observed. In general, this study examines the tourism economy of HSR. It considers its growth and distribution effects. This provides a basis for accurately evaluating the economic effects of HSR and guiding the inclusive development of regional tourism.

Key words: high-speed rail, tourism development, difference-in-differences model, ethnic areas

CLC Number: 

  • F592.7