Tourism balance

The tourism balance is the difference between the expenditure associated with inbound and outbound tourism, as captured by government statistics. It is part of the invisible balance or balance of trade on services, which is itself part of the balance of payments.

A positive balance indicates that a country is receiving more money from tourism than it is spending on tourism abroad, while a negative balance indicates the opposite. France has a positive balance (Ill. 1).

Ill. 1. Evolution of France’s tourism balance between 2005 and 2017 (source: DGE Mémento du tourisme, 2018 edition)

This balance can be analysed country by country and plotted on a graph (Ill. 2 for 2017). For example, in the case of France, the country has a deficit with Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, Morocco and Tunisia, but has a positive balance with Northern European countries such as Belgium, the UK, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Ireland is an exception (Violier, 2021). This situation is partly due to reciprocal comparative advantages, where destinations that align with the social standards of the period benefit from the flow of people and the wealth transfers that come with it. Another reason is that countries whose populations have a lower standard of living contribute less in terms of flows of people and value.

Ill. 2. Tourism balance between France and other countries (in millions of euros)

Philippe Violier