UK slips in world tourism table

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The Independent Online
Britain has been hit by the China syndrome in its attempt to move up the world tourist table, it was disclosed yesterday. Figures out earlier this year showed that the United Kingdom attracted about 26 million overseas tourists in 1996 - nearly 8 per cent up on the 1995 total. But fresh statistics show that a surge in Far East tourism means that China has pushed the UK down from fifth to sixth position in the world's top tourism destination league.

Latest provisional figures from the World Tourism Organisation show that China attracted 26.05 million overseas visitors last year - an 11.5 per cent increase on 1995.

Better news for the UK was that its share of the world tourism market, according to WTO, was 4.36 per cent in 1996, compared with 3.93 per cent in 1990. Overseas tourists spent a record pounds 12.7bn in the UK last year, which meant the country retained its fifth position in top tourism earners' table.

The top country for incoming overseas tourists in 1996 was, once again, France with 61.5 million visitors. The United States was second, Spain was third and Italy was fourth.