Comparison of Inbound and Domestic Tourists Destinations in Japan from 2011 to 2017: Zipf's law and Gibrat's law

Author Name KONISHI Yoko (Senior Fellow, RIETI) / NISHIYAMA Yoshihiko (Kyoto Institute of Economic Research, Kyoto University)
Creation Date/NO. February 2019 19-J-008
Research Project Development of New Indicators for Service Sector Analysis and EBPM
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Japan has been experiencing an unprecedented inbound tourism boom, but initially, tourists were concentrated in major cities in the Kanto and Kansai regions. However, due to an increase in repeat travelers and diversification in sources of information such as SNS, we have started to routinely observe tourists dispersed to other regions and localized increases in tourists. The purpose of this paper is to observe the distribution of tourist destinations statistically and its change over time for inbound and domestic tourists. We utilize the number of overnight guests of each accommodation in the "Accommodation Survey" conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for aggregating at the municipality and prefecture levels. We first perform rank-size rule regression between the logarithms of total overnight stays of foreign and Japanese tourists and the logarithms of the rank order of municipalities and ascertain if Zipf's law and the Pareto property are valid for municipality level. Next, since rank-size rule regression focuses only on cross-sectional characteristics, we next compare the patterns of rank changes using the new visualization method of rank clocks to observe the dynamics of ranks that represent the municipality's attractiveness as a destination. Finally, we verify whether Gibrat's law holds by examining the dynamics of the destination distribution. Our analysis reveals that both the ranks and the sizes for Japanese travelers are very stable, while the numbers of inbound travelers of each region have higher growth rates and fluctuate in rank order. Also, average growth rates of regions with smaller numbers of foreign tourists in 2011 are higher during the period up to 2017, indicating that target destinations for foreign tourists are becoming more diverse.

Published: Konishi, Yoko, 2020. "Rank-size Distribution and the geographical dispersion of tourist flows in Japan," Thailand and the world Economy, Vol. 38(2), pp. 41-62.