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I'm trying to make a living off of tourism (I just want to try it) yet every time I do, the same thing happens. I start off small with 1 tourist dock, about 4 hotels and several attractions. I scale everything up a bit (I reach 3 docks and about a dozen hotels) and I end up making a profit of 50.000$ which is good at the very start, quite very good, but I still need to scale up.

I get to the point where I have 9 docks and an airport and I still can't fill 20 hotels (whereas just a few in-game years ago I filled 12 from 3 docks). I just can't get more people to come to my island, now I make 75.000$ income but I spend 100.000$.

Crime is low, pollution is low, there are enough attractions and my tourism rating is just over 100. What could I possibly be doing wrong ? I just don't get it.

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8 Answers 8

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Making money from tourism is a real pain in the game. You are better of making industry, however if you really want to do it (for an achievement or the campaign or perhaps just a bit of fun?) there are a few tips I could give you.

  • IMPORTANT, before starting up any tourism, make sure you citizens are happy and you are earning a bit of money from industry or such. Without happy citizens, they can't be happy while serving tourists.

  • Focus on ONE or TWO types of tourists, do not try to please all of them, it will only ruin everything (from my own experience).

  • Make sure you place everything near each other, once you get an airport you do not want it to be on the other side of the island (I assume this would make sense?)

  • It helps to have your workers not to far off, or if they are a bit off always have garages so they can get to their work in the hotels fast.

  • Try to mess around with the costs of your hotels/entertainment structures. Are there no tourists there? Either they can't get there easy enough (garages, or lack of airport(s)/dock(s)), or it might simply be to expensive.

  • Make sure you have fully staffed buildings, no staff means that they tourists can't stay there!

  • Do not cut on costs for maintenance.

  • Only build new hotels/attractions if those you have right now are pretty much filled up, you do not want to waste money on something that's not required!

  • In the end, it's still a bad idea to do tourism if you really want to earn a lot of money in the game. Industry simply beats everything else.

Something to note you might not know about: the entertainment buildings that help both the tropico's and you have a rather strange system. The tourists will actually pay 3x more then the price it would cost your tropican's.

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  • Ok, thank you. Most of this I knew but that last bit (paying 3x tropicans pay) that actually made a huge difference. And the tip to play a bit with the sliders. But in the end, I just can't get much more than a 50 - 70 k profit. It's not bad but it costs me tropicans that would do better in industry.
    – Kalec
    Feb 14, 2012 at 20:51
  • Yup, that's sadly the fact. It simply is pretty much impossible to make some good money out of tourism in Tropico 4.
    – Ruddie
    Feb 14, 2012 at 21:11
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I'm pretty new to Tropico 4, playing the campaign for the first time (did play 1-3 though) and did just finish the third (I think) island where you are told to build tourism business.

My income (at end of the scenario = getting 1,000,000 twits) is $205,055 in total which splits up to

  • Farming $18,464
  • Mining $0
  • Logging $0
  • Industry $0
  • Tourism $138,058 (with one arrow up)
  • General Overhead $34,335 (with one arrow up)
  • Foreign Aid $14,148

I didn't plan in exporting anything, I'm just exporting food because I usually build more ranches than I need as I often leave my people starving later in the game. Concerning tourists, I did focus on the 'Wealthy'-class only building luxury hotels, beach-things (not the bunks, but the bigger ones which offer room for 2 families) and having one skyscraper hotel.

In entertainment / attractions I only use the luxury liner (which gives a lot of revenue, had something like slightly less then $400,000 total at the end), nightclubs, banks, modern art museum, gourmet restaurants, marina and spa, which I are the important ones. I only got 1 cabaret and almost none of the attractions which are listed under attractions and I got everything set on the highest settings to let it fit for the wealthy-class.

For tourist arrival I did have 3 docks and 1 airport in the end.

I did not start with the wealthy-stuff of course. At the start I did build 1 dock (and did only keep 1 for quite some time), one hotel (for free because of the perk) and 5-10 bunks (the small huts for 1 family) and as attraction a scenic spot which is a great money maker for the early and low tourists. The scenic spot (did keep it for the children of the wealthy tourists) had around $120,000 total revenue at the end, so it's good to have in my opinion(1-3 depending on how many tourists you got)

In all (small) free places around hotels / entertainment / attractions I did place parks / trees / fountains which in some cases helps a lot for the beauty-rating if you check the overlay. I'm not sure if it really affects the number / prices for tourists though, I just like my islands beautiful with a lot of small stuff :)

I did not have trouble or lack of money during this scenario. I did play pretty much the same setup on the second mission (where you are meant to build mines which I did not know, so did start with tourist-perks and did stick to it). Did work very well too, but I had 2 iron ore mines on the second island in addition to tourist business.

I think focusing on eco-tourists will work out fine too. They spend a lot in touring houses, balloon rides, maritime (boat tour-mode) and stuff like that. Slobs give me good money in restaurants, pubs and low-level entertainment / attractions in the beginning. Maybe if one does focus on these it will work in the late game too. Might try that on the next island.

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I know this is an old question but the previous answers were disappointing to me. Tourism absolutely can be your main or even only source of income in Tropico. If done right it is extraordinarily lucrative. If done merely as an afterthought... well... then your tourism industry is probably going to suck, people will know it, and tourists won't come.

I just ran through a game today myself to check this, and it's pretty easy to build an island that thrives on tourism if that's what you are planning to do from the start. So, to set things in my favor I created a custom leader. One with a Travel Agent background who came to power through a Hotel Corporate Buyout. For traits I selected Well-Traveled, Social, and Sailor. I chose Puerto de Oro as the island - it's perfect: got a ton of beach-front property and 3 different ancient ruins that can be exploited for tourism. And I set the Capitalists to be the dominant faction.

Upon starting the game I immediately built an extra construction office and an extra teamster's office - I pretty much always do that - and to the east of the fisherman's wharf they start you with I built a tourist pier and set that to high priority. As soon as it was finished I built my free hotel that I get with the Corporate Buyout, and next to it a motel, and then I built a beach front and a restaurant as my first attractions. I also built a salt mine as there was a large salt deposit right next to the starting location... just for some reliable early income... but... once I got going I think this wasn't even really necessary as the income I started generating from the tourism took off almost immediately.

So anyway after that I just split my time between developing the beach area which was all for tourists and developing my downtown area, keeping my citizens happy enough that they had their basic needs met so I could get reelected. Then I built an airport in the middle of the island and roads out to the historical sites where I built other hotels, and another road down to the second beach where I built more luxurious tourist attraction and accommodations. Eventually I demolished the salt mine as the income it was generating wasn't needed and it pollutes the surrounding area which has a negative impact on tourism.

Some basic tips:

  • Make your island attractive. Build lots of parks and gardens and plant trees. Make sure crime is under control. Make sure pollution is under control. Keep your liberty score healthy. Don't put tourist stuff next to factories and whatnot.

  • You don't have to cater to only one type of tourist, but definitely be aware of what kind of tourist you are attracting to different areas of the island and build accordingly. If you built motels and bungalows that attract spring break tourists, build tourist attractions nearby that they would enjoy. If you build luxury hotels that bring in wealthy tourists, set nearby attractions to strict dress code and VIP club etc so that they will enjoy those attractions. If you mix your tourist types in a single area, you won't be able to please them all.

  • Make sure you buy the add ons for the Aerodome to get more tourists. And of course use tourist advertising campaigns etc very liberally to bring in more.

  • Do whatever you can to keep your tourist rating up. The better the experience of the tourists who visit your island, the more that will come in the future.

  • Areas that are naturally good places to put hotels include beaches and densely forested green areas, but, if you keep your downtown area in good shape with low crime and lots of parks etc this becomes a very attractive area for tourists, too, and you can put hotels downtown.

  • Make sure your tourists can get around where they want to go... keep hotels and attractions close to each other and also give them garages and metro stations to connect them to other parts of the island.

The only problem that I seem to consistently run into in the game is that if I build hotels and motels, at first they can be extraordinarily lucrative and they will be packed with auto-prices set to 50-60+ at 100% capacity. But then later on, I think once I start building more high-end hotels like the skyscraper hotel and 7-star hotel, nobody wants to stay in the regular hotels and motels anymore. I usually stubbornly keep a few open just because, but they almost invariably become empty money pits. Probably best to demolish any motels and hotels later in the game once you have moved on to luxury hotels etc. But for whatever reason the bungalows seem to always be popular no matter what. So... if you really want an area dedicated to Slob or Spring Break tourists, you could fill it with Bungalows and Beach Villas. Though they will stay anywhere.

The other main problem with building an island that relies on tourism for income is that most of the jobs on your island will be service jobs for people without any education. This will naturally lead to you having a fairly low job satisfaction score. Not the worst thing, but, not ideal. You can increase job satisfaction by raising salaries for uneducated workers, but, if you do that too much then you'll find that all of your attractions start to lose money unless you raise the entry fees, and if you raise entry fees then you might find that you get fewer visitors, and then your tourism rating will drop, and it's just a nasty cycle.

The other thing is if you whole island depends on tourism revenue and you have random events turned on then things like volcanic eruptions etc can ruin you. I think embargos might affect you, too. Not sure. But if you have random events turned on make sure that you have at least a few tourist ports as back up in case you lose service at your airport(s).

Doing the above and other common-sense stuff, I played a game from 1950 to 2000 and by the year 2000 I was making $200k annually from tourist revenue. More than enough to keep the island running.

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    by the way 9 docks seems entirely excessive to me. Most of the time you don't need more than 1 or 2. But I think what some people said is accurate that there may be an invisible cap to how many tourists you can get in total no the island. Still... build enough hotels, Outlet Malls, Marinas, restaurants etc and you should be making plenty of money. Bulldoze the motels and hotels that aren't filling up if they're costing you too much money. Experiment until you find a mix of attractions and accommodations that work.
    – Ryan
    Apr 9, 2021 at 13:29
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I built everything under the Tourism tab and saw a significant difference in my profit. I went from gaining roughly 34,000 every six months to gaining 170,000 every six months from tourism alone not to mention my exports.

Make sure you have many wealthy tourist attractions and make all entry fees higher than normal. This will bring much profit to your island.

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Tourism has always been something luxury for me, after I get filthy rich by industry. I just open the map, see some beach and say "Okay, that'll be the place of tourism on my island after I get rich, quite a lot.", I totally do nothing at all in the beginning about tourism, tried for a few times, didn't work out for me. So, I put up my industry, very hard industry by the way, when I hit the million, I build a heaven-like place on my island, it does bring a lot of tourists, thus income but still, it's just for fun. But I'll try starting off with tourism, see how it goes this time.

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Making money from Tourism can make you Rich or it can make you poorer than an old beggar(Depending on the way you do it)

When I started playing Tropico 4, I made money from farms mainly.Before I started Building thing under Industry tab, I started to make money by Building a motel, a tourist dock and attractions.15 minutes later and I realized that I built just a motel, but All normal attractions and everything under Luxury attraction.But 5 minutes before I realized it my treasury's balance was about -15000(Please Don't Laugh)

So the point here is Tourism might be friend or foe for you.My suggestion is Make money from tourism Only when your economy is stabilized or you will find yourself poorer than an old beggar.(like me)

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As I see it, early established tourism can be a nice source of income. I make around 100k ~ 150k from tourism, whereas industry (only two factories) make around 50k. But it seems that there is a tourist cap at around 200 which cant be exeeded, no matter how many hotels or tourist docks one is building.

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Tourism is a lot of fun in Tropico 4 but agreed, it should not be your main source of income. In conjunction with a steady resource extraction and industry base, what I use tourism for is two fold:

1- in the early and mid game to provide a steady source of income in between freighters docking (even if it is small it keeps me going to have tourists paying for hotel fees and attractions)

2- it's a great way to boost your entertainment sector on the island and make those buildings profitable (it really help boost tropicans' entertainment satisfaction scores because you can actually afford to build high end entertainment venues and you can profit from entertainment with rich tourists stopping in to boost revenues)

Later in the game it is very frustrating to see vacant hotels when you have multiple airports and docks...but no worries, demolish the low wealth motels/hotels and focus on the luxury hotels and attractions and extract as much as you can from the rich foreigners - make good use of the edicts as well such as spring break, headliner, mardi gras, geographic, tv ad, etc.

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