Planning a vacation to France? You’re not alone. The country retained its crown as the top tourism destination in the world, according to new figures released by the U.N. World Tourism Organization.
France drew 84.7 million visitors in 2013, up 2 percent from the previous year. The United States took a distant second, attracting 69.8 million visitors during the same period.
Spain, with 60.7 million tourists, regained the third-place spot it had ceded to China in 2010. (China was fourth this year, with 55.7 million visitors.) The only other change in the top-10 rankings this year was the addition of Thailand, which rounded out the list with 26.5 million visitors.
The rankings are good news for France, which has been suffering from a lackluster economy and high unemployment. Its tourism industry, which accounts for 6.5 percent of France’s GDP, is a bright spot in the country’s grim economic landscape. Tourists spent 600 million nights in the country last year, up 4.6 percent from 2012. And average stays were longer, too -- 7.1 days, which is 2.5 percent longer than the previous year.
France owes much of its tourism success to Asian visitors. The number of tourists from China visiting France shot up 23.4 percent from the previous year, while tourists from India grew by 15.7 percent. But North American visitors were also choosing France as a destination again -- they had slowed down during the financial crisis -- with an increase of 5.8 percent from 2012.
World’s Top Tourism Destinations, by Number of Visitors
France 84.7 million
USA 69.8 million
Spain 60.7 million
China 55.7 million
Italy 47.7 million
Turkey 35.7 million
Germany 31.5 million
U.K. 31.2 million
Russian Federation 28.4 million
Thailand 26.5 million