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France keeps crown as top country for tourists

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France keeps crown as top country for tourists
Nice in southern France remains a popular summer destination. Photo: Shutterstock
10:29 CEST+02:00
The stats are in and it's official - France had more visitors than any other country in 2014 ensuring it holds on to its proud title as the most visited nation in the world. A huge jump in Chinese visitors has helped boost the numbers.
Did you take a trip to France last year? You're far from alone. In fact, tourists made some 83.7 million visits to the "hexagon", a 0.1-percent increase compared to 2013.
 
The Foreign Ministry, which is in charge of tourism, released the figures on Tuesday, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius adding that he expected 100 million tourist visits a year by 2020. 
 
The ministry added that there was a notable increase in tourist numbers from far afield, but a drop of 1.7 percent in the number of visits by Europeans.
 
The biggest boost was from the Asian market, with an extra 16 percent visiting last year.
 
This was largely thanks to the new fast-track 48-hour visa for Chinese travellers, which was introduced last January. The move saw a 61-percent increase in French visas given to Chinese nationals in 2014.
 
And figures for the first few months of 2015 suggest France will retain the title for this year, with an upswing in the number of Indian and Chinese visitors seeing a 38 percent and 65 percent increase respectively. 
 
Any country hoping to catch up with France may have a tough time. The government has said it has ambitious plans to boost visitor numbers beyond the 100 million mark.

These include a high-speed train link from Charles de Gaulle airport to the city centre, a huge revamp of the central Gare du Nord train station, free wifi in all airports, and plans to open more shops on Sundays.

The World Tourism Organization released worldwide figures for 2013 late last year, showing that France is well ahead of its competition when it comes to attracting tourists. 
 
Stats from last year shows that the US is the second most attractive tourist destination, with just shy of 70 million tourist visitors. Spain boasts 61 million, China 56 million, and Italy 48 million. 
 
Germany and the UK, meanwhile, attract around 31 million tourists each, enough to land them seventh and eight place respectively. 

To find out why France is the world's top tourist destination click on the link below.

Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination

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