How important is tourism in different countries?

Tourism is an important part of the economics of many richer countries, especially those in Western Europe and North America. Today, it is increasingly seen by developing countries as one of the best ways to earn foreign income, provide jobs and improve standars of living. Countries want to take advantage oif the growing numbers of tourists and the money they have to spend.
The economic importance of tourism
  • France has had more tourists than any other country for many years - 76 million tourists in 2007 - the tourism section of its economy is the number one earner of foreign exchange
  • The USA earns more money than any other country from tourism - $66,547 millions - Europeans consider a trip to the USA more special than staying in Europe, so they are likely to stay longer and spend more
  • Tourism in China is becoming more important as it has a variety of unusual landscapes and unique culture attracts increasing numbers with both time and money
  • In the caribbean almost 50% of visitor come from the nearby USA, with France, Canada and the UK also important sources of business. Expenditure per tourist ranges between $324 per holiday in Belize to $2,117 in the Virgin Islands, which attracts the wealthiest visitors

Essential jobs are created in all countries from tourism, but the contibution this industry makes to GDP varies greatly between wealthier and poorer countries. Rich countries have a broadly balanced economy of which tourism is one part. On the other hand, in LEDCs tourism can be essential. In the Caribbean, for example, several small island countries rely heavily on tourism to provide national income and employmeny. Around 80% of Barbados's national income comes from tourism.

Benefits of tourism in poorer countries
  • many people are employed to serve tourists such as waiters, souvenir shop assistants and tour guides. In Antigua and Barbuda 30% of the population work in these jobs, but in Jamaica only 8%
  • Tourist spend their holiday money in punds sterling, US dollars or Euros. This foreign exchange si essential to poorer countries. It can be used to buy goods and services from abroad
  • many governmentstax visitors to help pay for the extra services they use such as water supply, drainage, electricity and roads
  • extra jobs are created indirectly. Hotels buy some produce from local suppliers to feed the visitors
  • many small businesses have been started up to serve the tourists themselves and supply the services they demand. These include taxis, bars and restaurants, builders and maintenance workers

A useful video on tourism diversification in Dubai: