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France still No1 with tourists

83 million visitors in 2012 spent €35.8billion as sector avoids the financial crisis

FRANCE kept its position as the world's No1 tourist destination in 2012, with 83 million foreign visitors bringing in a total €35.8 billion in revenue.

The new visitor figure beat the previous record of 81.4m in 2011 and showed a 2.1% rise in European visitors, who make up more than 83% of the total numbers.

France continued to host an increasing number of Asian travellers and while overall tourist numbers were up 4% in 2012, Asian visitor numbers were up 9.9%. Chinese tourist numbers were up 23.3% - although they still represented only 1.4million visitors.

Tourism governing body DGCIS welcomed the news, saying: “With a new record number of arrivals by foreign tourists... France in 2012 retained its first place in the world.

"The economic and political problems that are affecting many parts of the world continue to spare the tourism sector."

Top visiting country was Germany, with 12.2 million visitors, but numbers from the Americas were down 3.2% and African visitors were down 2.5%.

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