Almost 1.5 million people went to the Maldives in 2018. For these vacationers, their visits were restful opportunities to lie on beaches and suck down fruity drinks. For the island nation’s 430,000 people, they had a far more critical function: contributing more than a third of the country’s GDP.
The Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, is the country most reliant on tourism. Around 20 others across the world derive more than 10% of their gross domestic product from tourism. Most are small, with a population well below a million people. The vast majority are in the developing world, where luxury resorts stand in stark relief to the reality of most locals.
Troublingly, more than half are islands and archipelagos. With few natural resources beyond pristine beaches and breathtaking views, tourism is an obvious economic focus. Unfortunately, these countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change, and have a huge amount to lose, including their tourist industry. They’re at high risk from rising sea levels obliterating resorts and coastal properties, the death of coral reef, and soil salinization threatening crops, as well as extreme weather events.
Source: The World Bank