China was the world's third largest tourist destination for the past two years and the number one source market in 2012, according to a report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The UNWTO Tourism Highlight 2013 Edition, which was released last month, ranked China the third most popular tourist destination in the world, with a total of 58 million international tourists visiting the country in 2012.
China is expected to top the list of most popular tourist destinations by the year 2015, Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of UNWTO, was quoted by Xinhua as saying in 2010.
France, with international tourism receipts of $53.7 billion, ranked the most popular tourist destination in the world, judging by the number of tourists arriving in the country. It was followed by the US, which has the second largest number of visitors.
The report also showed that China has become the number one source market in the world in 2012, spending $102 billion on non-domestic tourism, which exceeded the $84 billion spent by German tourists and the $83 billion spent by travelers from the US. The money spent by Chinese on tourism has increased by 37 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the report.
Boosted by rising disposable incomes, a relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel and an appreciating currency, Chinese spending has increased almost eightfold in the past 12 years, up from $13 billion in 2000, the report showed.
In the past four years, tourist arrivals in China have grown steadily, with receipts up from $40.8 billion dollars in 2009 to $50 billion in 2012, according to previous editions of UNWTO Tourism Highlight.