We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Yugoslavia: Guest Workers and Tourism
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Foreign Trade > Guest Workers and Tourism


Beginning in the 1960s, Yugoslavia earned considerable hard currency income from so-called "invisibles": remittances from Yugoslav guest workers working abroad, and from tourists visiting from countries whose currency was convertible into dinars. These remittances were important to the Yugoslav budget, particularly in the mid-1970s when they bridged the gap in the import-export balance and produced surpluses in the balance of payments. Beginning in the early 1970s, changes in financial laws encouraged Yugoslavs working abroad to deposit foreign currency savings in Yugoslav banks. Remittances, which averaged US$2 billion in the late 1970s, became the richest source of hard currency income for the Yugoslav economy. In the late 1980s, unofficial hard-currency income played a visible role in stimulating activity such as construction of private housing. Through 1990, about 375,000 workers had invested in Yugoslav firms after returning, and another 160,000 had started private business.

Yugoslavia was already an exporter of surplus labor before World War II. The Tito government actively discouraged that practice until the early 1960s, however, when growing unemployment altered official policy. Beginning with the reform of 1965, government policy encouraged workers to go abroad. In 1981, there were 875,000 Yugoslavs working abroad, mostly in West Germany and Austria.

Generally speaking, heavy reliance on tourism is not wise policy for a developing country, because that industry is highly sensitive to seasonal fluctuations and uncontrollable economic and political events. But from 1961, when one million tourists visited Yugoslavia, the figure increased steadily to over nine million in 1988, under government support for the tourist industry that began in the early 1960's. Besides its monetary contributions to the national balance of payments, tourism produced a quick return for those employed in the hotel, restaurant, and service industries. In real terms, income in those industries increased by about 1.7 times between 1965 and 1988. Tourism also stimulated the building, transportation, food manufacturing, and handicrafts industries.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Yugoslavia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 117 of 208


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(din.) Yugoslav Dinar (YDN)
Convert to Any Currency