Environmental degradation, economic growth and tourism development in Chinese regions

Yu Teng, Adam Cox, Ioannis Chatziantoniou

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    Tourism development is recognised as an essential tool in promoting economic growth; however, it may also contribute to environmental degradation. Increased pressure for reducing CO2 emissions poses new challenges to policymakers who try to promote economic growth and environmental protection in tandem. Since 2010, 19 scenic areas in China have been declared as low-carbon tourism demonstration zones. It follows that investigating whether CO2 emissions originating in the tourism industry could, in fact, compromise sustainable development in China becomes an essential area of study. Whilst this is a key concern to society, there is only a limited number of studies that analyse the environmental impact of tourism and the validity of the tourism-led-growth hypothesis. This study considers both domestic and international tourism and explicitly tests the relationship among tourism development, economic growth and CO2 emissions in China, employing a Panel Vector Autoregressive Model and utilising regional data between 2006 and 2017. Results show that the development of either international or domestic tourism, contributes to economic growth; however, at the expense of the environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33781–33793
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
    Early online date24 Feb 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


    • Tourism development
    • Economic development
    • Environment
    • Environmental impact assessments
    • Sustainable development
    • Panel VAR


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