PARIS: France welcomed 89 million visitors in 2017 to retain its crown as the world’s favourite tourist destination, nearly seven million more than nearest rivals Spain, which leapfrogged the USA into second place, according to UN figures.
That figure is up from 2016, when tourism was hit by terror attacks, and puts the country back on track to reach an ambitious target of welcoming 100 million tourists by 2020.
The report from the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, which shows that global tourism jumped 7%, shows that France is well ahead of second-placed Spain, which overtook the USA as the world’s second most-popular destination, despite terror attacks of its own and independence demonstrations in Catalonia.
The Spanish welcomed 82.3 million tourists in 2017, leapfrogging the USA for the second spot. The year before, America welcomed 75.6million visitors, 300,000 more than Spain.
US figures have not yet been released, but officials at the World Tourism Organisation expect them to be down on 2016 numbers.
Tourism industry trade group the US Travel Association had previously said that in the first six months of 2017, 6% fewer tourists visited the country compared to the previous year.