Replacing Spain from the third-largest tourist destination slot in the world's top tourism spots list, China is the third biggest attraction for tourists now, according to Man Hongwei, director of the international coordination department at the China National Tourism Administration.
Hongwei told media that the number of international arrivals staying at least one night reached 55.66 million in 2010, up 9.4 percent from the previous year.
It's the first time China appeared in the top three slot, followed by France, which had 78.95 million arrivals, and the United States, which had 60.88 million, he said, while citing the figures according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Earlier, the UNWTO predicted that China will become the world’s largest destination in the next five to seven years.
According to tourism industry experts, the Shanghai Expo and the Asian Games in Guangzhou were the major driving factors for increased arrivals last year.
China, the world's most emerging economy, is also one of the most emerging tourist destinations of the world. According to UNWTO, the country’s diverse culture, heritage sites, and culinary art has a strong hold on tourists.
Tourism officials further predict that China’s outbound travel numbers could grow to 79 million by 2015, outdoing Germany, which makes it the largest outbound travel market worldwide.