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Record tourists to France in 2011, Chinese numbers surge
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) July 18, 2012


A record number of foreign tourists visited France last year, with 81.4 million people travelling to the country and a surge in visitors from China, official figures showed Wednesday.

The figure beat the previous record of 77.6 million visitors in 2010 and was a 4.8 percent annual increase despite concerns over the global economy, France's DGCIS international competitiveness agency said in its annual report.

Visitors from emerging nations including China, Brazil and Russia were driving growth, seeing a 17 percent increase in 2011.

The number of Chinese visitors alone was up 23.9 percent, the report said, though they still represented only 1.1 million visitors.

After three years of falling amid US economic concerns, the number of American visitors rebounded last year with a 14 percent increase to 3.3 million, it said.

European tourists made up the bulk of visitors last year, with 67.8 million, accounting for 83.3 percent, the report said. The number of European visitors was up 3.1 percent.

Overall, tourists also stayed 10.7 percent longer in France last year and spent 8.4 percent more, for a total of 33.4 billion euros ($41 billion).

France is the world's most popular tourist destination and tourism plays a key role in its economy.

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