Skift Take

Fascinating list, if only to understand how vital the links -- literally -- to the outside world are for these countries, for their own economic growth.

When you’re a remote island, about the only means of building up an economy is tourism. World Travel & Tourism Council has come out with some data — along with its overall 2012-2013 numbers — that shows the extent to which these top tourism-dependent countries rely on that flow of tourists and the money they bring.

Beyond the GDP contribution that the tourists bring, this is also the largest sector for employment on these islands, as well as the largest investment sector in these countries.

In these top 10 countries, Caribbean, South Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations dominate, because of their remoteness from mainlands and also because they happen to be in temperate climate that encourages tourism. They have also developed good air and shipping links with mainland hubs, mainly as a result of their history under Western imperialism.

Among the few exceptions to the island rule is Macau, which might as well be a safe haven “island” for Chinese gambling-bound tourists, and has the highest proportion of GDP dependence on these travelers, along with being the biggest source of employment.

In the Western nations, only Ireland shows up on this list, as one of the top nations heavily investing in travel and tourism infrastructure.

Without further ado, the world’s most tourism dependent countries, calibrated against four different measure of direct GDP contribution, employment, visitor exports (tourism dollars inflow compared to overall external inflow) and capital investment into the tourism economy:

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Tags: economy, macau, tourism, wttc

Photo credit: Rendezvous Bay on the island of Anguilla. Andrea Zanivan /

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