France still tourism’s top spot


PARIS – France kept its position as the world’s top tourist destination in 2007, ahead of Spain, with nearly 82 million foreign visitors, the Tourism Ministry said on Wednesday.

The number of foreign tourists rose 4 percent in 2007 compared with the previous year, the ministry said.

“Of the total 82 million arrivals, 14 million were in transit while 68 million were tourists whose final and main destination was France,” it said in a statement.

Europeans accounted for 46 percent, with Germans, Britons and Belgians the main groups. However, the number of German tourists declined and there was strong growth in tourism from Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The number of Americans visiting France increased by 7 percent year-on-year, although the rise in value of the euro against the dollar meant arrivals from the United States slowed in the fourth quarter, the ministry said.

Europeans spend an average of just under six nights in France, while Americans spend eight nights and the Japanese five.