Tourism is an important part of the economy of most countries. For some, the money generated by the tourism industry makes up the primary contribution to the gross domestic product. Additionally, some nations are far more popular tourist destinations than others and receive tens of millions of visitors every year. While these are large numbers, the local population remains larger than the number of tourists. In other places, however, the number of annual tourist arrivals actually surpasses the number of local residents; this article takes a closer look at those countries.
Andorra is a small, landlocked nation in western Europe. It covers a total area of 180.55 square miles and shares borders with Spain and France. Most of this country is covered by the Pyrenees mountains, making it a popular ski destination with tourists. During the summer months, Andorra offers a number of hiking trails. This country received 2.36 million international tourists in 2014. With a local population size of roughly 70,000, that means that Andorra has 33.5 tourists for every resident.
Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China. It covers a total area of 44.5 square miles and has a population size of around 650,900. This country is particularly popular with tourists who are hoping to visit a casino or two during their vacation. It is home to a large gambling industry and a number of luxury hotels and resorts as well. Macau also offers a comfortable year-round climate and historical sites, like the ruins of St. Paul. Well over 16 million tourists visited Macau in 2014, which means this country has around 24.8 tourists for every local resident.
3. British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea and cover a total area of 59 square miles. This British Overseas Territory is made up of several islands, the largest of which include: Anegada, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda. Due to its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and world-class sailing opportunities, the British Virgin Islands are a popular vacation destination. The tourism industry here makes up nearly half of the national revenue, with a large part of this coming from cruise ship passengers. In 2006, these islands received over 825,000 tourists, giving the British Virgin Islands a tourist to resident ratio of 12.816 to 1.
4. Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are located to the southeast of the Bahamas, in the Atlantic Ocean, and has a population size of 31,458. This British Overseas Territory relies on tourism as a primary contributor to its national income. Visitors come here to take advantage of its tropical climate and white sandy beaches. The Turks and Caicos Islands are also a popular cruise ship destination and the government of this territory is currently working to expand its tourism industry by investing in luxury resorts and more cruise ship ports. In 2010, 617,863 tourists arrived here on cruise ships alone. The Turks and Caicos receive approximately 10.42 tourists for every local resident.
Aruba is an island nation that makes up part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, just 18 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela. It covers a total area of 69.08 square miles and has a population size of around 103,400 individuals. The tourism industry here makes up approximately 75% of the gross domestic product, with most visitors coming from the US, the Netherlands, Venezuela, and Colombia. Some of the most popular tourist activities here include snorkeling, visiting the ostrich farm, viewing the Antilla shipwreck, touring the butterfly farm, and just relaxing on the beach. Aruba receives around 10.318 tourists for every local resident, making it number 5 on this list.
The 6th highest tourist to local resident ratio can be found in Monaco, which is located in western Europe along the French Riviera. This nation is considered a microstate as it only covers an area of .78 square miles and has a population size of 38,400. Monaco is a popular tourist destination, particularly with elite individuals from the upper socioeconomic class due to its status as a tax haven. Additionally, tourists here enjoy the gambling opportunities offered by the Monte Carlo Bay Casino, Le Grand Casino, and Sun Casino (among others). Monaco receives around 8.72 tourists for every local resident each year.
7. Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands are located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. This US territory covers a total area of 179 square miles and has a population size of 53,467. It has the 7th highest tourist to local resident ratio (8.35 to 1) in the world. This rate was previously higher, however, the Northern Mariana Islands have experienced a decrease in tourism over the last decade due to the closure of Japan Airlines.
Guam, a US territory, is located in the western Pacific Ocean, where it covers an area of 210 square miles. This island is home to around 162,742 individuals and its economy relies heavily on both tourism and the US military. The majority of visitors to Guam come from Japan. This US territory offers a number of tourist activities, including duty-free shopping, theater shows, luxury hotels, an indoor aquarium, and a number of golf courses. Guam receives over a million visitors every year, making it number 8 on the list with a tourist to resident ratio of 7.9 to 1.
Bahrain is the only Middle Eastern country on this list. It is an island nation that covers 295 square miles between Saudi Arabia and the peninsula of Qatar. Bahrain has a local population size of around 1.378 million and receives over 4 million tourists every year. The majority of these visitors come from other Arab states in the region. These tourists come to this country for the climate, shopping, history, swimming, and water sports. Additionally, Bahrain is known to have a more liberal society and environment than other nearby countries. This island nation is number 9 on the list with around 7.6 tourists for every local resident.