The path of least resistance explaining tourist mobility patterns in destination areas using Airbnb data

TÜRK U., Osth J., Kourtit K., Nijkamp P.

JOURNAL OF TRANSPORT GEOGRAPHY, vol.94, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 94
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2021.103130
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Hospitality & Tourism Complete, Hospitality & Tourism Index
  • Keywords: Path of least resistance, Principle of least effort, Tourism mobility, Destination places, Tourist attractions, Multilevel models, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, OpenStreetMap, CULTURAL-ECONOMY, SOCIAL MEDIA, CITIES, DETERMINANTS, PRICE, MOTIVATIONS, BEHAVIOR, QUALITY, CITY
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: Yes


Destination attractiveness research has become an important research domain in leisure and tourism economics. But the mobility behaviour of visitors in relation to local public transport access in tourist places is not yet well understood. The present paper seeks to fill this research gap by studying the attractiveness profile of 25 major tourist destination places in the world by means of a 'big data' analysis of the drivers of visitors' mobility behaviour and the use of public transport in these tourist places. We introduce the principle of 'the path of least resistance' to explain and model the spatial behaviour of visitors in these 25 global destination cities. We combine a spatial hedonic price model with geoscience techniques to better understand the place-based drivers of mobility patterns of tourists. In our empirical analysis, we use an extensive and rich database combining millions of Airbnb listings originating from the Airbnb platform, and complemented with TripAdvisor platform data and OpenStreetMap data. We first estimate the effect of the quality of the Airbnb listings, the surrounding tourist amenities, and the distance to specific urban amenities on the listed Airbnb prices. In a second step of the multilevel modelling procedure, we estimate the differential impact of accessibility to public transport on the quoted Airbnb prices of the tourist accommodations. The findings confirm the validity of our conceptual framework on 'the path of least resistance' for the spatial behaviour of tourists in destination places.