The Gibraltar economy is largely based on financial services, tourism and shipping. More recently, Gibraltar has attracted a large number of blue chip gaming companies, to the extent that this industry is now an important part of the Gibraltar economy. A brief synopsis of each sector is given below. The economy has grown steadily over recent years, with Gibraltar's GDP for the year to 31 March 2015 standing at £1.64 billion, up by 10.3% year-o-year. The Government has predicted the GDP to grow to £1.8 billion by 2015-16. The number of jobs in Gibraltar increased by 1,515 from 22,907 to 24,422 (year to October 2014). This effectively represents full employment for Gibraltariansactively and constructively seeking employment. During this period, average annual earnings with respect to all employee jobs rose to £28,244. During the year to 30 April 2015, the rate of inflation was 0.2%. Finally, as regards government finances relating to the year ended 31 March 2015, the Government of Gibraltar announced a budget surplus of £51.3 million (for 2014, £65million) and estimates a surplus of £18 million for the year 2015-16. Further, Gibraltar's net public debt stood at £375 million on 31 March 2015.
Financial services form a vital segment of the economy, accounting for about 15% of total employment and 20% of GDP. In recent years, the insurance sector has seen the fastest growth, with the number of licensed insurance operations currently standing at 62. Gibraltar is now firmly established as a mainstream insurance domicile within the EU. As a result of the implementation of the Experienced Investor Funds (EIFs) legislation in 2005, the funds industry is another area that has experienced growth. Bank assets stood at £7.86 billion on 31 March 2014, while funds under management were £7.7 billion.
The reopening of the frontier in the mid-1980s was a major catalyst for the tourism industry, with the number of visitors rising from 300,000 before reopening to 2.8 million in 1986 to 11.1 million in 2013.
The port of Gibraltar has traditionally been a major contributor to the economy, particularly in bunkering where it has become a major fuelling port for the Western Mediterranean. Its operations are monitored and supervised by a bunkering superintendent, which is one of a number of security and best practice measures included in the Bunkering Code of Practice. Gibraltar also forms part of the Category 1 Red Ensign Group Register and is an attractive register for ships. More recently, the port has seen expanded passenger ferry links and services that should further boost its contribution to the economy.
Gibraltar is firmly established as a leading, reputable and well-regulated jurisdiction for online gaming activities. The industry has witnessed remarkable growth over the last 15 years or so, to the extent that it has now become a significant part of the Gibraltar economy. The Gibraltar Government is very selective in its criteria and only considers licensing blue chip entities with a proven track record in gaming. Licensees are required to physically operate and be managed in Gibraltar. As of September 2013, there were 30 licensed operators and the number of people employed directly by this sector has grown from about 185 in 1996 to approximately 3,000 in 2015. Details on the regulation of the industry are given in Section 3.4.