China becomes world's third-most popular destination

China's tourism bosses are sitting pretty this week after hearing that their country has now overtaken Spain as the third most-popular destination in the world.

At a press conference held in Beijing at the weekend, the National Tourism Administration of China announced 55.66 million visits by international visitors staying at least one night over 2010, a year-on-year rise of 9.4 percent.

That puts China in the world's top three destinations for the first time as it trailed in behind France (78.95 million) and the United States (60.88 million) for the year. Spain tallied 52.2 million.

China's outbound travelers numbered 57.39 million for 2010, up 20.4 percent, according to the latest figures from the United Nation's World Travel Organization.

The majority of China's visitors come from "Greater China" - namely Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau - but there was significant growth in numbers from Japan, Vietnam and India, as the NTA also released figures breaking down just who visited the country in 2010 and where they went.

South Korea provided the most "international" visits in 2010 - with just over four million - while the most popular destination in China was reportedly the southern Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong and is popular for day-trippers.

Industry insiders quoted by the China Daily newspaper put China's rise down to the major events the country hosted last year, most notably the Shanghai Expo and the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

The WTO has predicted China will take over as the world's favorite destination by 2015.

Where they come from* ...

1. South Korea: 4.08 million trips
2. Japan: 3.73
3. Russia: 2.37
4. United States: 2.01
5. Malaysia: 1.24
6. Singapore: 1.0
7. The Philippines: 0.83
8. Mongolia: 0.79
9. Canada: 0.69
10. Australia: 0.66


Where they go...

1. Guangdong: 7.33 million trips
2. Shanghai: 5.93
3. Jiangshu: 4.74
4. Zhejiang: 4.47
5. Beijing 4.22
6. Liaoning 3.07
7. Shandong 2.78
8. Yunnan: 2.31
9. Heilongjiang: 1.65
10. Shaanxi: 1.55

* Not including visitors from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan
Source: National Tourism Administration of China/ China Daily

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