Although transport infrastructure is one of the prominent factors that make Spain a major tourist destination, the international literature has revealed that the opening of new High-Speed Rail (HSR) lines is not sufficient by itself in order to increase tourist outputs in the new connected destinations. Nevertheless, the roles played by different characteristics of both travelers and destinations are of interest but they still remain not sufficiently explored. This paper focuses on the role played by HSR in fostering cultural tourism by applying a fixed-effect econometric model to a panel database (1988–2017). The database includes the number of tourists to some of the major Spanish cultural centers. The results show different impacts based on the regions, the characteristics of the museums, and the expected tourists. For destinations with previous cultural attraction, a positive effect is more evident. Moreover, the centrality of the HSR station as an enabling factor as well as the growth of the tourist market to the surrounding municipalities has been detected. Another interesting result is related to the cooperation effect between HSR and air transport, which encourages the arrivals of foreign tourists. These findings should help planners to develop policies that optimize tourist revenues by exploiting the potential of HSR development in the future.
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