Universitat Rovira i Virgili

No international tourists? How domestic destinations have competed for national tourists during COVID times.


Duro, J.A., Osório, A, Pérez-Laborda, A : "Competition for domestic tourism in the COVID-19 pandemic: a characterization using a contest model", Tourism Economics

Researchers from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and ECO-SOS have appllied a contest theory model to characterizing the touristic market competition in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic fall in international tourism demand. In this context, touristic destinations have revised their promotion strategies, intensifying the competition for the domestic demand, less affected by mobility restrictions. In this study, Juan Antonio Duro, António Osório and Alejandro Perez-Laborda from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and ECO-SOS have proposed a contest theory model for studying this new reality.

In their analysis, coastal (sun and sand) and rural destinations compete for the existing demand in terms of promotion spending. They found that competition was driven by two main factors: the relative strategic advantage of each destination in the international and domestic markets and the strategic value given to each of those markets. The pandemic has likely modified these factors, reducing the traditional advantage of coastal destinations and shifted market value towards the domestic tourists' market. According to their model, those structural changes have made touristic destinations more even, which has led to an increase in the competition, in particular for domestic tourists', with destinations rising promotion spending even in a context of reduced and falling demand. Those seemly paradoxical behaviors are consistent with the empirical evidence and were observed pretty much all over the world.

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Juan Antonio Duro

António Osório

Alejandro Pérez-Laborda