China has overtaken Spain on the list of the world's top tourism destinations, becoming the 3rd largest attraction, a senior tourism official said at the weekend.

Man Hongwei, director of the international coordination department at the China National Tourism Administration, said at a press conference that the number of international arrivals staying at least one night reached 55.66 million last year, up 9.4% on 2009.

China's appearance in the top three was its first. It follows France, which had 78.95 million arrivals, and the United States, which had 60.88 million, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The spending by outbound Chinese tourists ranked fourth-largest worldwide last year. The number of outbound travelers hit 57.39 million in 2010, which was up 20.4% year-on-year. The industry's total revenue maintained an annual average growth of 15% during the past five years, he said.

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