Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Dependence on tourism

Diversification in an economy is a sign of health. If a country, or region within a country, becomes dependent for its economic survival on one industry and that industry fails then the social consequences can be devastating. Overdependence on one or two industries is also often accompanied by underdevelopment within other sectors of the economy such as education, health, and the manufacturing and agricultural industries.

The tourism industry is extremely vulnerable to economic, social, and political changes in either the generating or host countries. 

The table below shows international tourism receipts as a per cent of export earnings for selected countries around the world.  Countries with a high percentage are more at risk to any decline in tourism and travel. Others are less vulnerable to the ill effects of a decline in tourism, because their economies are more diversified.  Japan is a good example.

International Tourism Receipts: 
% of Export Earnings (1998)
Argentina 17.2
Australia 10.2
Canada 03.8
China 06.1
Czech Republic 11.0
Egypt 19.0
France 07.7
Germany 02.6
Greece 25.4
Israel 08.3
Italy 09.6
Jamaica 35.4
Japan 00.9
Jordan 23.5
Mexico 06.1
Netherlands 03.0
New Zealand 10.9
Poland 18.3
Portugal 14.0
Russia 07.4
Spain 18.7
Switzerland 06.5
Syria 24.1
Tanzania 49.8
Turkey 14.3
United Kingdom 05.6
United States 07.6
Uruguay 16.4
Source: The World Bank Group: World Development Indicators