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Top Tourist Destinations

Dateline: 05/08/99

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) recently released their data for the world's top tourist destinations for 1998. Below is a list of the twenty top countries that received tourists for more than one day, along with the number of visitors for 1998.

1. France - 70,000,000

2. Spain - 47,743,000

3. United States - 47,127,000

4. Italy - 34,829,000

5. United Kingdom - 25,475,000

6. China - 24,000,000

7. Mexico - 19,300,000

8. Poland - 18,820,000

9. Canada - 18,659,000

10. Austria - 17,282,000

11. Germany - 16,504,000

12. Czech Republic - 16,325,000

13. Russia - 15,810,000

14. Hungary - 14,660,000

15. Portugal - 11,800,000

16. Greece - 11,077,000

17. Switzerland - 11,025,00

18. Hong Kong* - 9,600,000

19. Turkey - 9,200,000

20. Thailand - 7,720,000

*Though Hong Kong was considered separately, it is a Special Administrative Region of China.

From the WTO's fascinating list, additional details can be discerned. For example, France receives 11.2% of the world's travelers. Spain, Portugal, and Greece each had large jumps in the number of tourists between 1997 and 1998 (10%, 16%, and 10%, respectively). Hungary suffered a drop of 15% and China's number of tourists decreased by 7.7%.

Countries that many people often associate with travel, were not on the list of the top twenty. Surprisingly, countries such as Croatia (31st) and South Africa (25th) beat Japan (32nd), Australia (33rd), and Brazil (39th). Overall, the top 20 countries account for 73.6% of all visits worldwide.


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