There's a reason why you can't escape the hordes of tourists surrounding the Eiffel Tower. Not only is it one of France's most popular tourist destinations, but according to data from the World Bank, France is the world's most-visited country.
The World Bank compiled data for nearly every country in the world, primarily counting a "tourist" as anyone traveling to a country other than the country of their primary residence and whose main purpose in visiting was not work-related. Given the lack of standardized counting methods at every country in the survey, there are slight discrepancies from country to country. Notes the survey's introduction:
In some cases data are from border statistics (police, immigration, and the like) and supplemented by border surveys. In other cases data are from tourism accommodation establishments. For some countries number of arrivals is limited to arrivals by air and for others to arrivals staying in hotels.
Outside of France, which took the number 1 spot with nearly 81.5 million visitors in 2011, the United States came in second with 62.7 million visitors. In third, China, with approximately 57.6 million tourists. (See the entire top 10 in our slideshow, below.)
The most recent complete set of data is actually from 2011. A World Bank representative explained in an email to The Huffington Post that 2012 data will not be available until next year.
And while The World Bank did not immediately respond to our inquiries as to why it's over a year old, presumably it takes some time to gather data from the world's more isolated regions (we're looking at you, Tuvalu). Information provided by the UN's World Tourism Organization is similarly dated, also relying on statistics from 2011.
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