The impact of distance on international tourist movements

Robert Douglas McKercher, Andrew Chan, Celia Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the impact of distance on global tourist flows through an analysis of departing visitor share from 41 major source markets to 146 destinations. The study concludes that 80% of all international travel occurs to countries within 1,000 kilometers of the source market and that, with few exceptions, distant destinations have great difficulty attracting more than a 1% or 2% share of departures. However, high volatility in share within each distance cohort was also noted. Regression analysis of variation in share by distance suggests that market access and the level of tourism development within a destination distort movement patterns regardless of distance. Relationship variables played an important role in short-haul travel; a mix of source, destination, and relationship characteristics influence travel to medium haul destinations; and destination attributes influence share at long-haul destinations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-224
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Distance decay
  • Tourist flows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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