Eiffel Tower: France, world`s most visited country
FRANCE will be the world’s most visited country in 2010 followed by the US, with China and Spain battling for third place, the UN World Tourism Organisation said on Thursday (December 9). “France will remain number one,” the secretary general of the Madrid-based body, Taleb Rifai, told a news conference. China was now in fourth place but by the end of the year it “might overcome Spain,” he added. “China decided a few years ago that tourism should be a pillar of its economy, and it worked. The centre of gravity is moving towards China, and Asia in general.” By 2020 China will be the the world’s most visited country as well as the top source of foreign tourists, Rifai said. France attracted 74.2 million visitors in 2009 followed by the US with 54.9 million visitors and Spain 52.2 million, according to the UN tourism body. China, which as recently as 2000 received just eight million visitors, was the world’s fourth most popular tourist destination in 2009 with 50.9 million visitors. The UN World Tourism Organisation will publish its tourism rankings for 2010 in January. In terms of actual tourist spending, China overtook France to occupy fourth place last year. Chinese tourists splurged $43.7bn (£27.63bn) on their travels abroad in 2009 despite the economic downturn, propping up other economies by eating out, occupying hotel rooms and visiting attractions, the organisation said in its latest bulletin. That compared to $36.2bn (£22.89bn) in the previous year when China was the world’s fifth biggest source of tourism spending. Germany remained the world’s top international tourism spender last year at $80.8bn (£51.09bn), down from $91bn (£57.54bn) in 2008, followed by the US and Britain. Last month, the UN body announced it was working with China to draw up the country’s first national tourism law. Rifai said “2009 was the worst year ever in the last 60 years” for global tourism but the sector had bounced back this year and is expected to post growth in 2011 as well. The UN body predicts international tourist arrivals will grow by 5.0-6.0 per cent in 2010 to between 920 and 930 million arrivals, and will increase 4.0 per cent in 2011.
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