Lifestyle / Travel

France awarded world’s top tourism destination in 2016

Although tourist numbers dwindled in both France and the US, Spain saw a significant jump as travellers flock to the new alternative holiday destination.

Aug 05, 2017 | By Pameyla Cambe

Audrey Hepburn once famously declared, “Paris is always a good idea.” Years later, it seems that the doe-eyed actress’s sentiments are still being echoed by many a globetrotter. Yesterday, the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced that France was once again the world’s top tourism destination in 2016.

For many, the news might come as a surprise, especially after the string of deadly terror attacks that the country’s capital has seen in recent years. It is apparent, however, that to the 82.6 million tourists who visited France last year, the city of romance — with its beautiful historic monuments and exquisite local wines — still held its appeal.

However, the figures did reveal a drop of over 2% from 2015. The figures in the US were dealt with a likewise blow, falling 3% to a number 75.61 million tourists. Not all countries suffered the same fate, though — as was the case for Spain. Hot on the heels of the US, the country came in third with 75.56 million visitors. The 10% jump in visitors from 2015 reflects Spain’s newfound role as an alternative to the lands of Turkey, Egypt and North Africa — all of which are prone to unrest in the volatile political climate of today.

This has certainly worked to the Spain’s advantage; the country seems to be attracting a well-heeled crowd, judging from the staggering $60 billion earnings it received from tourists last year. It was beaten from the top position only by the US, whose $206 billion earnings put it miles ahead of any other countries in the running. Thailand and China came in third and fourth respectively.

Meanwhile, the Brexit referendum has evidently taken a toll on Britain. After voting to leave the European Union last year, the British pound was significantly depreciated against the US dollar. As a result, Britain fell four places down to the seventh position, making only $34 billion in tourist earnings in 2016.

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