Is Tourism a Low-Income Industry? Evidence from Three Coastal Regions

R. Geoffrey Lacher, Chi Ok Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Tourism has been a popular development strategy based on its potential of economic impacts and job opportunities, but the quality of jobs created by tourism has received little empirical investigation. This article uses data from IMPLAN and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine the income distribution of jobs created by tourism and compares the income distribution from tourism expenditures to the income distribution in three different coastal regions with large tourism industries. To examine the distribution of income from tourism, an eight-step procedure was developed by modifying previous procedures for estimating income distribution. Study findings indicate that the jobs generated by tourism expenditures had a lower income distribution than the overall income distribution in the three regions, with the difference being most apparent in more urban areas. The various implications of the low-income distribution of the tourism industry are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-472
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • coastal tourism
  • economic impact
  • income distribution
  • job creation
  • tourism development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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