PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (12): 1903-1916.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.12.007

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Effect of international sister city on inbound tourism and its spatiotemporal heterogeneity

WANG Yahui1, QUAN Hua2,*(), WANG Yali1   

  1. 1. School of Resource, Environment and Tourism, Hunan University of Arts and Science, Changde 415000, Hunan, China
    2. Tourism and Event Management School, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, Shanghai 201620, China
  • Received:2019-06-16 Revised:2019-09-24 Online:2019-12-28 Published:2019-12-28
  • Contact: QUAN Hua
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971191);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41571116);Key Projects of Hunan University of Arts and Science


In recent years, cross-research has become the mainstream paradigm of tourism study in China and internationally. The study of inbound tourism has always been the focus and hotspot of tourism cross-research. International sister-city relationship is an important urban diplomatic relationship. Exploring the influence of international sister-city relationship on inbound tourism and its spatiotemporal heterogeneity is helpful for developing the driving factors of inbound tourism. In this study, international sister-city relationship (city diplomacy) is incorporated into the model of influencing factors of city inbound tourism. Based on the panel data of 60 typical cities in China from 1973 to 2017, this study used the regression method of instrumental variables (2SLS) to test whether the establishment of international sister-city relationship and the accumulated numbers of international sister cities significantly promote the growth of the scale of inbound foreign tourists in cities, and whether the growth shows spatial heterogeneity due to the locational difference of cities. The research findings show that: 1) The establishment of a city's international sister-city relationship significantly increased the size of the city's foreign tourist reception. On average, cities with international sister cities receive about 150%-160% more foreign tourists than those without international sister cities. 2) With the increase of the cumulative number of international sister cities established by cities, the positive promotional effect on the reception scale of foreign tourists reached 3.6%-3.9% on average. 3) There is a significant regional difference in the promotion of establishment of international sister cities and the effect of international sister cities on the scale of city foreign tourists. Among the 60 cities, the spatial heterogeneity of central and western cities is stronger than that of eastern and northeastern cities, which is mainly due to the differences in the time of establishing international sister-city relations and the frequency of exchanges and cooperation between cities in different regions. 4) Theoretically, when the accumulated count of international sister cities established by a city reaches 50 pairs, the promotional effect of increasing the number of international sister cities on the scale of foreign tourists will no longer be obvious. The research results not only expand the scope of traditional inbound tourism research, but also enrich the theory of inbound tourism driving force, which provide a theoretical basis for cities in the new era to promote the growth of foreign tourists by virtue of the international sister-city relationship.

Key words: sister cities, inbound tourism, instrumental variable regression, effect, spatiotemporal heterogeneity