France is tops for tourists, Germans spend the most...

France is tops for tourists, Germans spend the most...

... and 2012 is set to break tourism records
Mom, here I am with all these tourists.

Some 705 million international tourist arrivals were recorded over the first eight months of 2012, leading to the prediction of hitting the one billion tourists benchmark for the first time ever by the end of the year.

That's all according to the United Nation's World Trade Organization (UNWTO)'s latest tourism report (download), which also also detailed tourism highlights from 2011.

In 2011:

  • There were 983 million international tourist arrivals (overnight tourists). 
  • The most popular tourist region was Europe, with over half of all international tourist arrivals.
  • Intentional tourism receipts surpassed US$1 trillion. 

Most popular destination

European countries dominated the most popular destinations list. France headed the list and five other European countries were in the top 10.

The second most popular destination, the United States, had the largest international tourism receipts. Spain had the second biggest income from tourism and France rounded out the top three.

China (third overall) was the most popular destination in Asia and Malaysia (ninth) was the second Asian destination with the most tourist arrivals.

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German tourists spent the most

There weren't many major changes from 2012 in the list of nation's whose citizens spent the most on tourism. Germans again topped spending with US$84 billion in 2011. 

Tourists from the United States were next with US$79 billion worth of expenditure, followed by China with US$73 billion. China also had the highest growth -- 18 percent -- from last year's figures.

The only differences in the chart from last year were from Japan and Russia. Russia rose to seventh place while Japan replaced Russia, slipping to ninth.

This fall was due to a decline in outbound Japanese tourism after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, according to the report.

The report predicted the international tourism market will continue to grow -- an average of 3.3 percent annual increase -- until at least 2030. The report projected international tourist arrivals worldwide will reach 1.8 billion by 2030.

Another prediction: emerging economy destinations will become more popular travel spots than advanced economy destinations (which currently lead the industry).

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World's top tourism destinations (million tourists):

1. France 79.5 

2. United States 62.3

3. China 57.6

4. Spain 56.7

5. Italy 46.1

6. Turkey 29.3

7. United Kingdom 29.2

8. Germany 28.4

9. Malaysia 24.7

10. Mexico 23.4

Biggest international tourism receipts: (billion)

1. United States US$116.3

2. Spain US$59.9

3. France US$53.8

4. China US$48.5

5. Italy US$43

6. Germany US$38.8

7. United Kingdom US$35.9

8. Australia US$31.4

9. Macao (N/A)

10. Hong Kong US$27.7

Biggest spenders: (billion)

1. Germany US$84.3 

2. United States US$79.1

3. China US$72.6

4. United Kingdom US$50.6

5. France US$41.7

6. Canada US$33

7. Russian Federation US$32.5

8. Italy US$28.7

9. Japan US$27.2

10. Australia US$26.9

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