Which countries rely the most on tourism spending?

Globalisation and a growing trend in travelling have increased the number of people visiting foreign countries each year. This has brought with it increased GDP growth due to tourism spending.

In fact, travel and tourism’s contribution to world GDP grew for the sixth consecutive year in 2017. Additionally, global visitor exports, which is money spent by foreign visitors, accounted for 6.6% of total world exports, and almost 30% of total world services exports.

But, which countries are spending the most on tourism?

On The Go Tours have used World Travel and Tourism Council Data and analysed the amount spent by 45 of the most visited countries, according to UN World Tourism Rankings, on outbound tourism and compared it to the amount spent on inbound tourism. View the full list of countries in their interactive graphic, here.

Chinese tourists spend billions over their New Year celebrations and are the biggest spenders out of all countries on the list. In China, a staggering $289.4bn is spent on outbound tourism – that is the equivalent to just over 3 times the amount of revenue that tech giant Apple announced they made in Q1 for 2018 ($88.3bn) and 587.8 million flights from China to the San Francisco International Airport, CA, USA, with an average price of $500.

These are the top 10 biggest spenders on tourism:

  1. China. $289.4bn

  2. USA. $151.4bn

  3. Germany. $86.8bn

  4. UK. $72.8bn

  5. France. $47.8bn

  6. Canada. $32.3bn

  7. Italy. $28.7bn

  8. Australia. $28.6bn

  9. Spain. $26.7bn

  10. UAE. $24.6bn

In contrast, the USA sees the highest amount of inbound spending. Millions of tourists flock to the country each year, bringing with them $212.3bn in tourist spending.

The top 10 countries who receive the most tourism spending:

  1. USA. $212.3bn

  2. China. $119.7bn

  3. Spain. $65.7bn

  4. Thailand. $53.7bn

  5. France. $46.8bn

  6. Germany. $46.7bn

  7. Italy. $41.6bn

  8. Hong Kong. $37.6bn

  9. UK. $37bn

  10. Japan. $32.4bn

Some of the countries who received the lowest amount of cash, brought in by tourists, can be found in poorer areas of the world. Vanuatu, Zimbabwe, Barbados and Tunisia all receive less than $2bn of tourist spending and each spend less than $0.6bn on leaving the country.

One of the countries that stands out in the dataset is Thailand. This Asian country, renowned for its backpacker culture falls out of line with the pattern that emerges in the most visited countries around the world. Thailand locals spend $8.4bn on outbound tourism, but receive a healthy $53.7bn into their economy from travellers – that’s almost 6.5 times more than what they’re spending and $45.3bn in tourism profit that will benefit the country as a whole.

There are also some countries who are almost 50/50 in terms of their outbound and inbound tourism spending – which means there is an equal amount of holidaymakers wanting to relax in the country as well as those who are travelling out of the country. Two European countries, the Netherlands and France, are examples of this as there is only a $1bn spending difference for each of them.


Outbound Tourism Spend

Inbound Tourism Spend

The Netherlands






For more information on outbound tourism spending vs inbound tourism spending, please visit On The Go Tours.

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