Visualizing the Tourism Economy Around the World

Traveling the world is a dream of many young jetsetters across the world. Tourism has always been a popular industry, but which countries enjoy the most tourism and which countries spend the most on travel? Take a look at our two maps of inbound and outbound tourism below.

Inbound tourism can be thought of as a tourism receipt. On our map, inbound tourism expenditures are the expenditures of foreigners visiting a specific country. From the perspective of an American, any foreigner spending money to travel to and visit your country is considered an inbound tourism expenditure. Both maps are separated by region with a color key indicating each region. The bigger the country appears on the map, the more the expenditures. The data was collected from the World Bank in 2014.

Top 5 Countries by Inbound Tourism Expenditure

  • United States: $220.1B

  • France: $66.8B

  • Spain: $65.1B

  • United Kingdom: $62.8B

  • China: $56.9B

Conversely, outbound tourism expenditures are the expenditures of tourists from a specific country. Imagine you’re an American. If you spend money to visit Germany as an American tourist, this would be considered an outbound tourism expenditure for America.

Top 5 Countries by Outbound Tourism Expenditure

  • China: $164.9B

  • United States: $145.7B

  • Germany: $106.6B

  • United Kingdom: $79.9B

  • France: $59.4B

Unsurprisingly, wealthier countries enjoy higher expenditures, both outbound and inbound. This is simply because the citizens of these countries have more money to spend on travel. It’s also because wealthier countries usually invest in tourist attractions. With China’s recent economic rise, its citizens now have more money and a larger middle class. Chinese people spend more on tourism to other countries than any other group at $164.9 billion in outbound expenditures a year, as of 2014. Americans come in at a close second at $145.7 billion, while Germany takes third at $106.6 billion.

For inbound tourism expenditures, the United States is far ahead of all others. People across the world spent a total of $220.1B to travel to the US and enjoy what the United States has to offer. With less than one-third of inbound expenditures compared to the US, France comes in at second place with people spending $66.8B to visit and enjoy France’s history and culture. Spain, another European country with a noble and cultured history, sits at third place with $65.1B in inbound expenditures.

Western and Asian countries enjoy the highest levels of inbound tourism expenditures by far. Out of the top 20 countries by inbound tourism expenditures, every single one of them is either in the West or in Asia (except Turkey, if you consider them Middle Eastern). This means that people from across the world spend a lot of money to visit these countries. The people who spend the most on travel (outbound tourism expenditures) are almost all from the West or Asia as well, with two exceptions. People from both Saudi Arabia and Brazil spend quite a bit on travel and are both in the top 20 for outbound tourism expenditures. Many countries that are member states of the European Union consistently make both lists. This is likely due to the Schengen Area, which allows citizens of countries in the European Union to travel freely between Eurozone countries. The wealthier the country is, the more the people of that country are likely to travel. At the same time, wealthier countries tend to receive more visitors each year and therefore more inbound expenditures from tourists. While the United States receives the most expenditures from foreign tourists than any other single nation, the Eurozone receives the greatest inbound tourism expenditures out of all regions.

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