nternational tourism is one of the most valuable industries in the global economy, contributing around $5 trillion dollars each year. The growth and employment rates of many countries rely on tourists and the money they bring with them.

The number of tourists worldwide plummeted between 2020 – 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the tourism industry is estimated to have lost close to $1 trillion dollars because of the lockdowns, travel restrictions, and public anxiety regarding the virus.

While tourism has picked up since the decline of the virus, it has yet to reach its pre-pandemic levels. Many popular tourist destinations with a smaller total GDP are heavily reliant on tourism, and the pandemic posed a unique threat to their economies.

We are going to look at which countries earn the most from tourism, which earn the least, and which countries’ economies rely most heavily on the industry. 

Which country earns the most from tourism?

According to world-meters.com, the USA earns the most money from tourism, with their inbound tourist receipts totaling around $210.747 billion each year. Spain is in a distant second place, making $60.964 billion a year, with France in third at $60.681 billion.

At the other end of the table are Papua New Guinea ($1 million), Tuvalu, Burundi, and Niue ($2 million each). 

Top 10 Countries that earn the most money from tourism each year



Tourism Income ($)

Percentage of GDP


































Source: atlasbig.com

The USA earns by far the most money each year from tourism, with annual receipts totaling $210.747 billion, which is more than triple the second-placed Spain, which earns around $67.964 billion from tourism.

France is in a close third place behind Spain, earning around $60.681 billion each year, followed by Thailand ($57.477 billion) and the UK ($51.211 billion).

China rounds off the top 10, with annual tourist receipts totaling $32.617 billion), just behind east Asian neighbors Japan ($34.054 billion), Germany ($39.823 billion), Australia ($41.732 billion), and Italy ($44.233 billion).

Which country earns the most from tourism as a percentage of GDP?

Of the top 10 countries that make the most money from tourism, Thailand earns by far the most as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP). Its annual tourist earnings of $57.477 billion represent 12.6% of the country’s total income from goods and services produced. Spain comes second, with 5.2% of its GDP coming from tourist expenditure.

Despite being the country that earns the most from tourism, the USA’s tourist income is only 1.1% of its GDP.

Outside of the top 10, the Maldives is the country that earns the most from tourism as a percentage of its GDP. Its tourist receipts of $2.742 billion provide 59.6% of the country’s total GDP. Palau comes second, with its tourism income of $141 million representing 48.4% of its GDP.

When we look at tourism income in relation to GDP, it is clear to see how many popular destinations with a smaller overall GDP heavily rely on the tourism industry. Tourism accounts for nearly 60% of the total GDP of the Maldives and nearly 50% of Palau, so when an event like the Covid-19 pandemic takes place, it is countries like these that suffer the most. 

What are some of the most popular destinations in the US?

So now we know the US is the country that earns the most from tourism, but what are the tourist hotspots that draw the most visitors to the country each year?

The most popular tourist destination in the US is New York. The Big Apple is home to Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Grand Central Station, each of which is among the most visited tourist spots in the world. 

Las Vegas is another popular US city visited by tourists from all over the world. Visitors are drawn to the City of Lights for its world-famous casinos, hotels, and some of the greatest and most spectacular stage shows on Earth.

The Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park are the most visited natural landmarks in the States. Every year millions of tourists travel all the way to the US to see the awe-inspiring beauty that America has to offer, and it doesn’t get much better than Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

Disney World in Florida is the most popular theme park in the US – and one of the most visited destinations overall. Every year, over 12 million people visit the Magic Kingdom, and many of these visitors are foreign tourists.

Which country has the most tourists?

The US earns the most money from tourism, but it is not the country with the most annual visitors. France claims the title of the country with the most tourists, with nearly 87 million visiting each year, which is around 5 million more than Spain and nearly 10 million more than the US.

France is popular with people from all over the world and has something for everyone. Whether you want historical cities with cathedrals and pre-Revolution era palaces, picturesque beaches, snow-topped mountains, or rural villages that were home to some of the fiercest battles of WWII, France has it all. 


The tourism industry was brought to its knees during the Covid-19 pandemic. Though it is projected to pick up again (and has already started), many countries are still suffering from the loss of income during the lockdown months. 

The world economy relies on foreign tourists and the income they bring. Some countries with smaller GDPs are heavily dependent on tourism for economic growth, job creation, and general prosperity.

The US is the country that makes the most money from tourism. However, the Maldives is the country that earns the most money from tourism as a percentage of its GDP.