Tourism is a potentially important source of revenue for the picturesque islands and has increased steadily since the mid-1980s. The number of hotels and other accommodations has grown from 24 in 1985 to 40 in the early 1990s. In 1995 there were 1,436 hotel rooms with 2,681 beds and an occupancy rate of 60%. Tourist arrivals in 1997 numbered 45,000 with receipts totaling $15 million. In 2000, the number of tourist arrivals grew to 83,259. The majority of visitors come from Europe. The ruins at Cidade Velha on São Tiago and the beaches at Baia das Gates on Boa Vista hold considerable tourist interest. Water sports are becoming extremely popular.
The US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Praia at $168 per day in 2002. On São Tiago, the average daily expenses were $66.