Travel-dependent Countries - Statistics [2023]

We present the latest statistics on travel-dependent countries. Find out which countries in the world depend on tourism mainly.

Traveling has become an integral part of our lives. Whether enjoying a vacation abroad or working in another city, exploring new places is essential for our growth.

But for travel-dependent countries, this activity has become crucial to their economies - they rely heavily on travelers coming in and out of their borders to support themselves. 

In this article, we'll be exploring countries reliant on traveling and tourism, looking at different examples around the globe and discussing why they depend so heavily on tourism revenue.

By understanding what benefits certain nations receive from incoming visitors, those who plan a vacation can make meaningful contributions and positively impact entire communities!

Economies recovering after the global pandemic

As we were navigating life in the global pandemic, countries heavily dependent on traveling for economic stability have faced terrible hardships.

For them, tourism has been a source of high income, and its sudden halt has caused tremendous damage.

To enjoy travel after the COVID-19 pandemic is to have an opportunity to rethink our approach to supporting those whose livelihoods depend on tourism.

A small action can go a long way in helping these economies, allowing them to eventually welcome travelers back with open arms.

Where do foreign tourists outnumber the locals?

Have you ever been to a place where it feels like the locals are outnumbered by tourists?

From bustling cities to tiny islands, there are plenty of destinations across the globe where locals have become overshadowed by travelers seeking adventure and fun.

In such places, residents are slowly becoming the minority due to the increase in mass tourism.

Top 10 countries where tourists outnumber locals

List of countries with the highest number of tourists per resident registered in 2014:

There are plenty of reasons the destinations listed above became so popular among tourists.

Andorra, nestled in the Pyrenean Mountains, is a perfect destination for outdoor adventure. In the winter, you can ski or snowboard down pristine slopes, while those who prefer a calmer experience can enjoy gentle hikes during the summer season.

On the other hand, Monaco is famous for its luxury lifestyle and gambling opportunities. Whether you want to take it easy by strolling around its harbor or test your luck in the casino, Monaco has something unique to offer everyone.

The British Virgin Islands are a tropical paradise perfect for everyone who needs a relaxing tropical experience. You can relax on the beach while watching the blue sea or get adventurous with activities like snorkeling and sailing to explore what lies beneath the crystal clear waters.

What countries rely primarily on tourism?

According to Visual Capitalist, 44 countries worldwide rely on the travel and tourism industry for more than 15% of their total share of employment.

Tourism remains their most important source of income, creating numerous job offers for the local residents and supporting the economies shattered by the global pandemic.

Top 10 countries that rely on tourism

List of countries with the highest registered tourism contribution to the local GDP:

The country with the highest percentage of tourism contribution to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the Maldives. Its travel and tourism industry brings in over 1 billion USD annually.

Although the amount may seem small in comparison to some larger countries, it accounts for almost 40% of the local GDP of the Maldives.

Other countries worldwide have also started to reap the benefits tourism has to offer, diversifying their revenue sources while simultaneously improving infrastructure, boosting local economies, and often creating sustainable progress.

How does tourism impact large economies?

Tourism has become a significant economic driver for many countries around the world. From Australia to Switzerland, tourism boosts economic growth, creates job offers, benefits rural areas, preserves cultural heritage, and introduces new business opportunities. 

For example, the immense impact of tourism can be seen in London, where it generates around six million jobs and raises over 102 billion GBP annually. Unfortunately, tourism can also negatively impact the culture if it is not managed correctly. 

Still, tourism provides growth opportunities both for local businesses and individuals. For countries looking to strengthen their economies, tourism can be a great resource to explore!

Tourism as a part of the top 20 largest economies

List of large economies countries with the highest registered tourism contribution to GDP:

  • Mexico - 15.5%
  • Spain - 14.3%
  • Italy - 13.0%
  • Turkey - 11.3%
  • China - 11.3%
  • Australia - 10.8%
  • Saudi Arabia - 9.5%
  • Germany - 9.1%
  • United Kingdom - 9.0%
  • United States - 8.6%
  • France - 8.5%
  • Brazil - 7.7%
  • Switzerland - 7.6%
  • Japan - 7.0%
  • India - 6.8%
  • Canada - 6.3%
  • The Netherlands - 5.7%
  • Indonesia - 5.7%
  • Russia - 5.0%
  • South Korea - 2.8%

As large economies evolve and tourism expands, it becomes apparent that tourism plays a central role in facilitating solid economic development and building cohesive communities worldwide.

What does the tourism industry look like worldwide?

Globally, several countries lead the charts in terms of generating direct travel GDP. These destinations draw immense traffic yearly, with numerous inbound and outbound visitors. From rich cultural experiences and incredible sightseeing to endless recreational activities - these nations have one of the most booming tourism industries in the world!

Top 10 countries with the highest GDP generated by direct travel

List of countries with the highest GDP generated by direct travel and tourism in 2019:

  • Macau - 50.2%
  • Maldives - 32.5%
  • Aruba - 32.0%
  • Seychelles - 26.4%
  • British Virgin Islands - 25.8%
  • US Virgin Islands - 23.3%
  • Former Netherlands Antilles - 23.1%
  • Bahamas - 19.5%
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis - 19.1%
  • Grenada - 19.0%

The direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP reflects the 'internal' spending on travel and tourism registered by residents and foreign visitors for business and leisure purposes, as well as 'individual' spending by the government on travel and tourism services.

It is estimated that in 2019 Macau, an administrative region of China, generated the highest GDP score through direct travel worldwide. Over 50% of its Gross Domestic Product was registered as coming from the tourism sector.

The Maldives scored the second-highest GDP share. This island state has been developing its travel and tourism industry for almost 60 years now, registering 30% of the local GDP in 2019.

Depending on travel and tourism

Tourism and travel are the primary sources of income for numerous countries worldwide. Plenty of them is the island states, frequently visited by tourists wishing to spend some time in a tropical paradise, enjoying sunny weather with blue skies and sandy beaches with crystal clear water. 

While discussing the situation of travel-dependent countries, it is essential to point out the damage caused to them by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Strict restrictions and fear of traveling caused significant damage to the economies of these countries. For them, travel and tourism is the primary source of income, with over 330 million job positions supported by this industry.

Places such as the Maldives, Macau, British Virgin Islands, Aruba, and Seychelles register around 25-40% of the tourism contribution to the GDP per year, making them highly dependent on the travel industry. By comparison, destinations of large economies, for example, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and China, generate between 10-15% of GDP.


World Atlas
Visual Capitalist
Travel Daily Media

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