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UNWTO – The most popular tourism destinations in 2018

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), 80 % of tourists travel within their own region. Continuing a long term trend, Europe leads the way in incoming overseas visits, receiving 713 million visitors last year alone. Globally, France leads the way, followed by Spain, the US, China and Italy. The UK is the seventh most visited country in the world. This is very good news for the coach tourism sector – especially if market potential is effectively developed and customers eminently satisfied.

Other regions are also on the rise. Last year, trips to North Africa rose by 10 %. Tourism to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East is also increasing, as demand for non-traditional destinations grows.
The number of tourists produced by any country tends to correlate with its income and population. China’s rising wealth has resulted in a huge growth of tourism abroad, making Chinese people the world’s most abundant tourists. In 2017, Chinese tourists made 143 million journeys abroad, followed by Germany (92 million), the USA (87.8 million) and the UK (74.2 million).

According to the UK Office for National Statistics, UK residents consistently make more visits abroad than foreign residents make to Britain. Popular destinations are Spain, France and Italy. Three in four Britons remain within the EU, but the USA was the fourth most visited location for UK citizens last year.

Unsurprisingly, London was the UK’s most popular tourist destination, with more than half of all UK visits including a trip to the capital city. Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, was the second most popular tourist spot, followed by Manchester.

Americans top the list of UK arrivals, but 80 % of the UK’s incoming visitors were from Europe. The tourist industry is responsible for about 2.5 % of British GDP. In 2018, visitors spent almost £23 billion in the UK, though visitor numbers fell slightly on 2017 (a record year). Visit Britain estimates that by 2025 Britain’s tourism industry could be worth as much as 10 % of GDP and will employ more than one in 10 people.

Further information:


Christina Gehlen
Phone: +49 221 912772-19
Fax: +49 221 912772-27

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