France re­mains fa­vorite tourism des­ti­na­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MADRID, Spain — France re­tained its po­si­tion as the world’s fa­vorite tourism des­ti­na­tion last year, the UN’s World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion said on Wed­nes­day, de­fy­ing con­cerns over ter­ror at­tacks.

The United States came se­cond fol­lowed closely by Spain, ac­cord­ing to an­nual fig­ures that the Madrid-based UNWTO nor­mally an­nounces in Jan­uary, but which were de­layed this year.

But although France stayed on top by wel­com­ing 82.6 mil­lion vis­i­tors last year, that was down more than 2 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year.

Re­peated ter­ror at­tacks had sparked con­cerns that tourism would drop sub­stan­tially in France, known es­pe­cially for its gas­tron­omy and wine, but the data in­di­cated vis­i­tors have not been put off.

The num­ber of tourists vis­it­ing the US was also down, fall­ing 3 per­cent to 75.61 mil­lion, which saw the coun­try nar­rowly main­tain its se­cond po­si­tion as Spain ex­pe­ri­enced a 10 per­cent jump in vis­i­tors to 75.56 mil­lion.

The lat­ter’s tourism in­dus­try has boomed partly be­cause peo­ple who nor­mally go to Turkey, Egypt or North Africa for their hol­i­days are in­stead de­cid­ing to chase the sun in Spain, cit­ing fears of un­rest.

China came fourth in the rank­ing with just un­der 60 mil­lion vis­i­tors and Italy came fifth — the same as in 2015.

The clas­si­fi­ca­tion is cal­cu­lated ac­cord­ing to the num­ber of vis­i­tors who spend at least one night in a coun­try.

But if the money earned from tourists is taken into ac­count, the US came a re­sound­ing first with $206 bil­lion made last year, the UNWTO said.

Spain came se­cond with around $60 bil­lion — an­other rise com­pared to 2015 — fol­lowed by Thai­land and China.

The United King­dom, mean­while, fell from third to seventh place at $34 bil­lion due in part to the de­pre­ci­a­tion of the pound com­pared to the dol­lar af­ter the Brexit vote to leave the Euro­pean Union, the UNWTO said.

LUDOVIC MARIN / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Two young Asian women si­mul­ta­ne­ously jump for a pic­ture near the Eif­fel Tower in Paris on July 26.

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