Helpful Holidays

Published by: BouncePosted

The destinations where your money goes the furthest

The tourism industry has been severely hit in the last couple of years, which has had a serious impact on the economies of many cities and countries.

Those that rely significantly on tourism have been particularly hard hit, with a vast portion of the country’s income drying up almost overnight.

But if you want your next vacation to really do some good to the local economy, where should you go?

To find out, we’ve highlighted the countries where money from tourism makes up the greatest share of the local GDP (gross domestic product), as well as which receive the most money overall from visitors.

Countries that rely on tourism the most

1. Aruba

Tourism contribution to GDP: 27.64%
Tourism contribution to employment: 29.91%

Taking into account both factors, the nation with the heaviest reliance on its tourism trade is Aruba, with tourism accounting for over 25% of the local economy.

Like most of the top-rated countries here, tourism is so popular in Aruba due to its climate, with clear, sunny skies pretty much all year round.

Again, most of these visitors come from North America, with many luxury hotels having been built over the years to entice tourists, especially along the island’s west coast beaches.

2. British Virgin Islands

Tourism contribution to GDP: 32.96%
Tourism contribution to employment: 24.03%

In second are the British Virgin Islands, where tourism directly accounts for around a third of the nation’s overall GDP.

Most of the visitors to the islands come from the USA, including many cruise ship passengers, as well a large number who visit the islands to charter yachts.

3. Maldives

Tourism contribution to GDP: 38.92%
Tourism contribution to employment: 15.74%

While not located in the Caribbean, another island nation takes third place, with tourism making up almost 40% of the local economy in the Maldives.

Until the 1970s, the Maldives were relatively unknown and the local economy was based around fishing, but since then, tourism has taken off in the islands rapidly.

This influx of tourists has turned what was previously a relatively poor nation into one of the most prosperous in South Asia.

The country with the highest tourism GDP

Maldives - 38.92%

Unsurprisingly, many of the countries where tourism is most important to the economy are located in popular island destinations such as the Maldives.

Here, tourism directly brings in over $1bn a year, which is small in comparison to some bigger countries but accounts for almost 40% of the local GDP.

The country with the largest number of tourism workers

Aruba - 29.91% of the workforce

As well as being the country with the second-highest relative income from tourism, Aruba is also the country where tourism accounts for the largest proportion of the workforce, at just under 30%.

Like most of the top-rated countries here, tourism is so popular in Aruba due to its climate, with clear, sunny skies pretty much all year round.

Countries with the highest tourism incomes

1. United States - $536.18bn

As one of the biggest economies in the world, it’s perhaps no surprise that the country that receives the greatest income from tourism each year is the USA, at over half a billion dollars.

It’s estimated that around 60 million people visit the States each year, whether it's to see natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, some of the world’s most exciting cities like New York, or world-famous attractions such as Walt Disney World.

2. China - $455.96bn

Only just behind the US when it comes to tourism receipts is China, which receives $455.96bn annually.

As well as huge numbers of domestic tourists, millions of people visit China each year, and international tourism has increased in recent decades. 

It is home to the second-largest number of World Heritage Sites (including the Great Wall of China), as well as modern cities such as Shanghai.

3. Germany - $162.06bn

The country with the biggest tourism income in Europe is Germany, at $162 billion annually. 

Popular landmarks and attractions in Germany include Cologne Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag in Berlin, and Neuschwanstein Castle.

Germany is also home to one of the most popular theme parks in Europe, the Europa-Park.

How to support local businesses whilst on holiday 

1. Shop locally 

Whether it’s fresh produce from a local farmer's market or handmade crafts from a family-run souvenir shop, you can help out the local community by shopping from small businesses. Shopping locally, as opposed to in large chains will provide you with an 

authentic cultural experience, and you will also have the opportunity to pick up unique products that you can’t purchase back home! 

2. Support local restaurants 

Indulging in cuisines from independent cafes and restaurants is a great way to support local businesses. Switch out restaurant chains for independent finds, and embark on a gastronomical adventure, discovering new cuisines, whilst eating like a local. Save the Starbucks for when you get back home and gain a true insight into the most popular regional dishes. 

3. Take Tours with local guides 

By choosing to take a tour with a local guide you can help to drive tourism based-jobs, which in turn will help to boost the local communities economy. Local tour guides can also help you to experience the best version of the country you are visiting. A guide's local perspective and secret insight into a destination can help to make your trip truly memorable.

4. Book locally-owned accommodation

Although staying in a huge hotel complex might initially sound like the most appealing option, you will definitely have a more authentic and enhanced travel experience staying at independently-owned accommodations. Most importantly though, by staying in local guest houses, or smaller boutique hotels, the money you spend goes directly into the hands of the local community members. 

5. Spread the Word 

Another way you can help local communities is to write about them! From a cheeky Instagram post to a dedicated blog post or travel review, spreading the word on a local community can help to boost tourism, thereby influencing others to visit your highly-rated destinations. 


All data sourced from the World Travel & Tourism Council via the World Bank’s TCdata360 and refers to 2018 (most recent data available).

Contributions to GDP refer just to income that is ‘directly’ from tourism and travel.

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