The impacts of tourism development on income inequality: how does tourism capital investment contribute to income distribution? Tourism Agenda 2030

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Purpose: This study aims to analyze tourism development's (TOD) role in demoting income inequality in South Asia from 1996 to 2020. To this end, this study explored the connection between TOD, tourism investment, economic growth (GDP), trade globalization (TGL) and income inequality. Design/methodology/approach: This study used various techniques, including cross-sectional dependence, unit root, cointegration techniques, long-term elasticity estimators and short-term causality between the study variables. This study adopted Driscoll–Kraay standard errors and Dumitrescu Hurlin panel causality estimations. Findings: This study’s results reveal that tourism has an inverted U-shaped association with income inequality in the long run, which supports the Kuznets Curve hypothesis. In contrast, capital investment in tourism (CIT) has a significant negative association with income inequality. At the same time, growth and TGL positively and significantly affect income inequality. Moreover, TOD has a bidirectional feedback causality of income inequality. These results also support tourism's “price effect” on income inequality. Hence, this study provides more practical implications regarding policymaking in tourism and income inequality in developing economies to target Agenda 2030. Originality/value: This study is unique by considering the cross-sectional dependence in estimating the model that has been ignored in previous studies and provides new insights into the existing literature by investigating how TOD and CIT contribute to income inequality concentrating on the understudied South Asian economies from 1996 to 2020. As a result, this study has more practical implications for policymaking in the tourism industry and income inequality in emerging economies.

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Tourism Review

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