Spain is set to replace the United States as the world’s second most popular tourism destination while France has retained the top spot, the UN World Tourism Organisation has said.
It is expected that Spain will take the second position with 82 million visitors last year, UNWTO head Zurab Pololikashvili said.
Definitive figures will be published in the spring.
ololikashvili did not give any details about the US, nor did he explain why Spain took the second spot despite a terror attack in August and an independence crisis in tourism magnet Catalonia, home to Barcelona and the Costa Brava.
John Kester, head of tourism trends at the UN agency, said “everything indicates” France would retain its top spot in 2017 – a good year for the industry as the number of global tourists leapt 7% on 2016, the biggest increase in seven years.
Europe was the star of the show as it attracted a large number of visitors, up 8% from the previous year, lured in particular by the Mediterranean’s sea and sun.
In 2016, Spain welcomed 75.3 million visitors, just behind the US with 75.6 million, while France easily remained the world leader with 82.6 million visitors, according to the UNWTO.