Services provided 79 percent of GDP in 1996. The GDP of the services sector increased at an annual average rate of 4.2 percent between 1990 and 1998. Tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy, with the trade and hotels sector providing an estimated 15 percent of GDP in 1998. Between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors per year provide US$5 to US$10 million in revenues. Attractions include World War II battle sites, game fishing, ecotourism , and the Millennium Islands, situated just inside the International Date Line and the first place on earth to celebrate each New Year.
The financial sector is heavily reliant on 1 commercial bank, the Bank of Kiribati. Modern expertise is provided by the majority shareholder, the Westpac Banking Corporation of Australia, which owns 51 percent, while the government of Kiribati owns 49 percent. The bank has 3 branches and provides checking and savings accounts, makes loans to individuals and businesses, provides financial facilities for international trade (such as letters of credit), and undertakes foreign exchange dealings. However, the bank provides no credit card facilities. The only other bank is the Kiribati Development Bank, which lends to small-scale businesses.
The retail sector consists mainly of small outlets, with a few supermarkets and department stores, mostly owned by Australian companies, in the capital, Tarawa.