The Top 5 Countries with the Most Tourist Visits 2009

  Country Tourist Arrivals Percent Change Number of World Heritage Sites
1 France 74.2 million - 6.3% 35
(4 natural sites)
2 United States 54.9 million + 3.5% 21
(12 natural sites)
3 Spain 52.2 million - 8.7% 42
(5 natural sites)
4 China 50.9 million - 4.1% 40
(12 natural sites)
5 Italy 43.2 million + 1.2% 45
(3 natural sites)
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  1. According to the WTO report, 2009 totals for international tourist arrivals and receipts only show a very slight variation on earlier estimates. International tourist arrivals declined by 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million globally. International tourism receipts reached $852 billion USD (611 billion euros) in 2009, corresponding to a decrease in real terms of 5.7% on 2008, which shows that receipts were not very much more affected by the crisis than arrivals. (a.)
  2. In 2009, there were only slight changes in the ranking of the first ten destinations by international tourist arrivals and receipts. France continues to lead the ranking of the world's major tourism destinations in terms of arrivals and ranks third in receipts according to the WTO. The USA ranks first in receipts and second in arrivals. Spain maintains its position as the second biggest earner worldwide and the first in Europe, and ranks third in arrivals. China and Italy rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in arrivals, and in reverse order for receipts.Growth was positive in all world regions but was very uneven from one to another. (a.)
  3. Asia and the Pacific (+12%) showed strong growth, continuing the rebound that began in the second half of 2009. South Asia and South-East Asia (both +14%) were the fastest growing subregions. In the Americas (+6%) growth was close to the world average. Central America (8%) and North America (+7%) grew the fastest, and South America (+5%) and the Caribbean (+4%) somewhat more slowly. (a.)
  4. Worldwide, international tourist arrivals increased by 7% between January and April, thus continuing the recovery trend that started in the last quarter of 2009. Arrivals grew faster in emerging markets (8%) than in advanced economies (5%). (a.)
  5. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of the ten following selection criteria: 1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; 2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; 3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared; 4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; 5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; 6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria); 7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance; 8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features; 9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; 10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. (b.)
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2010). "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer" Volume 8, #2, June 2010. Retrieved: Jan, 2011.
  2. UNESCO. (2010). "The Criteria for Selection" Retrieved: Jan, 2011, from
Tags: Travel & Tourism Statistics, Top 5 Most, China, Spain

Sources:  United Nations World Tourism Organization: World Tourism Barometer June, 2010., UNESCO 2010.

List Notes: Data is number of tourist arrivals for the year 2009. Percent change is from the year 2008. Data for natural world heritage sites is as of Jan 2011 and includes natural sites that are mixed with cultural sites. For example the Pyrenees - Mont Perdu area of France & Spain are listed as natural World Heritage Sites for their outstanding scenic landscape as well as their outstanding cultural importance to the world.
Countries with the Most Tourist Visits 2009

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