Popular tourist sites are the royal palace and terraced tombs in Nuku'alofa. Most visitors enjoy a traditional evening feast of suckling pig, crayfish, chicken, and assorted accompaniments. Fishing, swimming, and sailing are popular, and rugby is a favorite spectator sport.
The minister of police grants prior-arrival visitors' permits up to a maximum of six months. Permits are not required from persons in direct transit, holders of Tongan passports, or foreign government officials traveling on official business. Vaccination against yellow fever is required.
The tourist industry is a small but growing source of foreign exchange revenues. In 2000 there were 34,694 tourist arrivals, with 46% of travelers coming from Australia and New Zealand. Tourism receipts totaled $7 million.
In 2001 the US State Department estimated the cost of staying in Nuku'alofa at $94 per day.