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China among world's 10 most popular tourist destinations
Published on: 2018-09-10
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034Those hoping their favorite global city will be a bit less crowded the next time they visit are in for a disappointment. International tourism growth shows no signs of slowing, according to the just-released United Nations World Tourism Organization 2018 Tourism Highlights Report.

Global tourist arrivals grew 6.8% in 2017, hitting 1.32 billion. That’s 84 million more travelers than the previous year, the highest increase since the 2009 global economic crisis hit.

Though this means those crowds around the Mona Lisa won’t be thinning at the Louvre any time soon, it’s good news for a number of destinations that have been suffering from security challenges or recovering from natural disasters in recent years.

The report attributes the growth to an economic upswing, resulting in strong outbound demand from major source markets. Simply put, many of us have more money to burn on plane tickets.

“The recovery of outbound demand from Brazil and the Russian Federation after a few years of decline and the ongoing rise of India, also contributed to inbound growth in many destinations,” says the report.

And things aren’t slowing down, either. Available data for early 2018 shows a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April, says the UNWTO.

International Tourist Arrivals in 2017

So which countries attracted the lion’s share of those travelers? France leads the way, receiving 86.7 million international tourists in 2017, followed by Spain at 81.8 million.

031Here’s the top 10:

1. France — 86.9 million

france2. Spain — 81.8 million

spain3. United States — 75.9 million

us4. China — 60.7 million

China5. Italy — 58.3 million

Italy6. Mexico — 39.3 million

mexico7. United Kingdom — 37.7 million

UK8. Turkey — 37.6 million

turkey9. Germany — 37.5 million

german10. Thailand — 35.4 million

thailandThe above list focuses purely on arrival numbers, not to be confused with tourism receipts — the amount international inbound visitors spent, including payments to national carriers for international transport.

When it comes to cash, the United States received the most of it — $210.7 billion — in 2017. Rounding out the top 10 are Spain, France, Thailand, UK, Italy, Australia, Germany, Macau (China) and Japan.

032As for which country’s citizens spent the most in 2017, China continues to lead global outbound travel expenditures, spending a whopping $257.7 billion in 2017.

Coming in second is the United States, with its citizens spending $135 billion while traveling abroad last year. It’s followed by Germany, the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Russia, South Korea and Italy.

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