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World Tourism Organization ranks Spain third-most popular destination

Author:   |  May 10th, 2017

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Spain has a lot to offer all types of holidaymaker, and is regularly among the most visited countries in the world.

Spain has a lot to offer all types of holidaymaker, and is regularly among the most visited countries in the world.

The latest data from UNWTO – the World Tourism Organization – has placed Spain third in the global tourism rankings for 2016.

According to the data, Spain welcomed 68.2 million visitors last year, placing it behind the USA in second with 77.5 million visitors, and France in first place, with 84.5 million overseas visitors…

The UNWTO statistics differ slightly from other metrics in that they record visitors from another country rather than bonafide tourists who spend at least one overnight stay. Hence, France is way out in front because many travellers transit through the country on their way to neighbouring countries.

That is not to say that France’s tourism market is not exceptionally strong, rather that its location at a crossroads between the UK, Belgium, Germany and Italy – to name just a few of the countries France borders – means it will always have a high number of ‘visitors’.

Spain, meanwhile, shares land borders with just three countries – Portugal, Andorra and France – and is also smaller and less populated than France. Indeed, the UNWTO also published data on the number of tourists per resident and, on this metric, Spain beats France, attracting 1.4 tourists per every resident, ahead of France on 1.25.

Interestingly, it is the tiny principality that is sandwiched between France and Spain – Andorra – that tops the tourists-per-resident chart globally, attracting a whopping 33.5 tourists per every Andorran resident.

In the overall numbers chart, Spain comes in just ahead of China (56.9 million overseas visitors in 2016), Italy (50.7 million) and Turkey (39.4 million). The UK is the world’s eighth most-visited country, attracting 34.4 million tourists last year, just behind Germany in seventh (35 million tourists).

Rounding out the top ten is Mexico in ninth place (32.1 million tourists) and Russia in tenth (31.3 million).

Compared to 2016, Spain’s tourism sector is expected to grow by around 3.2% this year.

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