France remains world's most visited country

Last Updated 30 March 2014, 15:41 IST

France remains the world's most visited country with more than 83 million international tourist arrivals in 2012, according to latest figures released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

When it comes to attracting visitors France has no shortage of draws – Alpine ski resorts, Mediterranean beaches, food, wine and culture clearly hold great appeal.
However, countries like Bangladesh (just 0.003 tourists per head, or 0.29 per cent of the population), India and Pakistan (both 0.005 tourists per head) lag far behind.

India may have received more than six and a half million tourists in 2012 but its population of more than 1.2 billion dwarfs its visitor numbers, The Telegraph reported.
When it comes to tourists as a percentage of population, one country stands head and shoulders above the rest. With a population of a little more than 800, Vatican City is the world's smallest independent state.

It is also the epicentre of a religion with an estimated 1.2 billion followers worldwide, and is a site of great religious, historical, cultural and political significance.

The Vatican Museums alone received nearly five-and-a-half million visitors last year, so it comes as no surprise to find it punches way above its weight in the tourists per head stakes, the Telegraph report said.

In (a distant) second place is Andorra, which received more than 2.2 million tourists in 2012, despite having a population of fewer than 80,000.

Low sales taxes and import duties on consumer goods make it an appealing shopping destination, while its growing reputation for affordable ski holidays goes some way to explaining its relative popularity, the report said.

The number of tourists is a huge 2805 per cent of the entire population.

Caribbean nations rely heavily on tourism, with many of them welcoming more visitors than there are residents each year.

London may be rivaling Paris as a tourist destination - but on a country-wide scale the gap between Britain and France is yawning.

The UK received 0.46 tourists per head in 2012, compared to 1.26 for France.

Where possible, population data was taken from worldbank.org and tourism data from the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which gives figures for the number of international tourist arrivals by country each year.

The number of international tourist arrivals for each country was then divided by the corresponding population to give the tourists per head figure.

(Published 30 March 2014, 15:40 IST)

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