Rank Professionals
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The Most-Visited Tourist Destinations of the Past Decade

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Rank Professionals
RudyBalasko/istockphoto

Rank Professionals

In the global popularity contest of destinations vying for visitors, there's been one consistent favorite for nearly all of the past decade: France, the most visited country in the world from 2010 to 2018, according to United Nations World Tourism Organization data. Though rankings shift slightly from year to year, with one country moving up or down a few notches, there are many countries aside from France found frequently among the decade's 25 most popular destinations. Here's a closer look at this dwindling decade's tourism's elite.

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France
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France

France topped the list of most visited countries around the world in 2010 with 77.6 million visitors; fast forward to last year and the country still leads the rankings, having grown to welcome 89.4 million visitors. Home to legendary works of art, the iconic Eiffel Tower, and Versailles, among many, many other attractions, it's no wonder France is so hard to beat.

Related: 36 Cheap or Free Things to Do in Paris

United States
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United States

The United States held firm as the second-most popular destination from 2010 through 2016, starting with 60 million arrivals and seeing 76.4 million visitors six years later. In 2017, though the United States was knocked down a notch by Spain. The effect Donald Trump's presidency has had on the diminishing travel numbers remains fiercely debated.

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Spain
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Spain

A country that began in fourth place in 2010 with 52.7 million visitors, by 2017 Spain's international arrivals had reached 81.9 million, putting it in the No. 2 slot behind France, where it remained as of last year with 82.7 million visitors.

China
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China

China was the third-most popular tourist destination in the world in 2010, attracting 55.7 million visitors. It held onto its third-place ranking for 2011 and 2012, but was knocked down to No. 4 in 2013 by Spain. China has remained the fourth-most popular destination in the world since, and last year it had 62.9 million visitors.

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Italy
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Italy

Ever-popular Italy began the decade in fifth place with 43.6 million visitors and has maintained that ranking every year. Last year, still in fifth place, the country saw 62.1 million visitors.

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Turkey
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Turkey

Turkey was the sixth most-visited tourist destination on the planet for the first half of the decade. By 2016, the country had fallen several slots to 10th place, unseated by the United Kingdom. Turkey began a climb back upward in 2017, reaching eighth place with 37.6 million visitors; last year it climbed to sixth place with 45.8 million visitors.

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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom

The United Kingdom was the seventh-most popular tourist destination in the world in 2010, attracting 28.3 million visitors. It has been on a rollercoaster ride since, spending about four years in the No. 8 slot, then inching up to sixth place, dropping again to seventh place and ultimately landing in 10th place as of last year with 36.3 million visitors.

Germany
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Germany

Another consistent favorite of world travelers, Germany spent a string of years in eighth or seventh place. In 2017 it fell to ninth, but it has since returned to eighth and last year had 38.9 million international tourist arrivals.

Malaysia
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Malaysia

Malaysia's power to draw tourists has been wilting against the competition. In 2010, it was the world's ninth-most popular tourist destination, with 24.6 million visitors; in 2011, it fell to No. 10. By 2013, it dropped to 11, and a few years later it was in 14th place. As of 2018, Malaysia is the 15th-most popular tourist destination in the world with its 25.8 million tourist arrivals.

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Mexico
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Mexico

Starting off in 10th place in 2010 with 23.3 million visitors, Mexico has seen a steady increase in popularity over the years. As of last year it had climbed to seventh place with 41.3 million international tourist arrivals, aided by steady investment in its tourism industry over the years, including increasing the number of hotels and direct flights available.

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Russian Federation
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Russian Federation

Russia has been rocky, recording 22.3 million visitors in 2010 for 11th place among the most popular tourist destinations, then climbing to No. 9 in 2011 and resting there for about three years. In 2014 it dropped to 12th place; by 2016 it was in 15th place; as of last year it sits at No. 16 with 24.6 million visitors.

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Austria
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Austria

Attracting 22 million visitors in 2010, Austria was the 12th-most popular tourist destination in the world. Between 2011 and last year it has moved up and down by one slot again and again, and as of last year was in 12th place yet again with 30.8 million visitors.

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Ukraine
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Ukraine

A country that's spending a lot of time in the news these days, Ukraine attracted about 21.2 million visitors in 2010, making it the 13th-most visited tourist destination in the world. Between 2011 and 2013 it held the 14th-place ranking, but by 2014 fell all the way to No. 25, with 12.7 million visitors. In 2015 the country disappeared from the top 25 altogether and has not returned.

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Hong Kong
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Hong Kong

Now struggling to survive as a tourist destination amid continued protests, Hong Kong was in 14th place among the world's most popular tourist destinations in 2010, attracting 20.1 million visitors. It hovered between 10th and 14th place in the years since, slipping recently into recession as protests take a severe toll on the country and its economy, including its tourism industry.

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Canada
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Canada

Canada has spent the better part of the past decade moving up and down the rankings between the 15th and 18th slots, where it now sits. Last year the country attracted 21.1 million visitors.

Related: 26 Things Americans Don't Know About Canada

Thailand
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Thailand

The 16th-most popular tourist destination in the world in 2010 with 15.9 million visitors, scrappy Thailand has since managed to work its way into the top 10. As of last year it was ranked No. 9 with 38.2 million international tourist arrivals.

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Greece
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Greece

With its awe-inspiring ancient sites, stunning beaches, and some of the best food in the world, it's more than a little surprising Greece is so far down this list. In 2010 it was in 17th place with 15 million international tourist arrivals. In recent years, Greece has climbed a few slots in popularity to 13th, where it remained as of last year with 30.1 million visitors.

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Egypt
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Egypt

Egypt was ranked No. 18 in 2010 amid the world's most popular tourist destinations, sinking to 24 the next year and by 2013 disappeared from the top 25 entirely. As of last year it has not returned. But don't write this country off: Egypt has struggled for years to reestablish its tourist economy since its plummet began during a revolution, bombings at Coptic churches, the downing of a Russian Metrojet flight, the death of British tourists at a Red Sea resort, and more. By last year, though, Egypt's tourism sector was the fastest-growing in North Africa. That turnaround has been attributed in large part to increased security measures within the country.

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Poland
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Poland

Poland's sweet spot is the 19th slot among the top 25, a position it has held for most years since 2010 (making a few appearances at No. 18). Last year, the country attracted about 19.6 million visitors.

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Macao
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Macao

A gambling and shopping hot spot, Macao is an autonomous region on the southeast coast of China. For years it has fluctuated in the rankings between the poles of 19th and 23rd place. As of last year, Macao was the 21st-most popular tourist destination in the world, with 18.5 million visitors.

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Netherlands
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Netherlands

After coming in at 21st-most popular tourist destination for about five years straight, the Netherlands has risen more recently to 20th. Last year it attracted 19 million visitors. But the country's most famous city, Amsterdam, is struggling to cope with overtourism and in recent years has passed measures to try to control the impact of the swelling numbers of visitors.

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Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia was 22nd among the 25 most-visited tourist destinations in 2010. It climbed to 18th the next year and inched up another notch the next year. It continued hovering in the teens for the following few years until dropping off the top 25 entirely in 2018, which is not totally surprising — the country has received its fair share of damaging headlines for being linked to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Hungary
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Hungary

Hungary hangs in consistently among the 25 most popular tourist destinations — at the bottom. Hungary attracted about 9.5 million visitors in 2010 and was in the 23rd slot. As of last year, it is still at No. 23 and recorded about 17.2 million visitors.

Morocco
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Morocco

A stunning country with a great deal to offer, including diverse and picturesque countryside, warm, welcoming people, and charming, colorful small villages, Morocco appeared amid the top 25 for only one year, in 2010. That year it attracted 9.5 million visitors. Though it has yet to return to the list of the most visited countries of the world, this northern African nation should hardly be discounted. It's one of the loveliest and most welcoming countries in Africa.

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Singapore
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Singapore

Like Morocco, Singapore's appearance among the top 25 was not long-lived. It earned the 25th slot in 2010 with 9.2 million visitors and remained on the list until 2013, when it was 23rd among the most-visited tourist destinations with 11.9 million visitors. After that it too disappeared from the top 25.

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Korea
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Korea

Korea appeared among the top 25 most-visited tourist destinations in 2011 for the first time (at No. 25) with 9.8 million visitors. In 2012 it inched up to No. 23 with 11.1 million visitors. The next year it reached No. 22, and in 2014 it peaked at No. 20 with 14.2 million international tourist arrivals. Korea had a few more good years amid the top 25 before dropping off the list entirely in 2017.

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United Arab Emirates
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United Arab Emirates

One last country worth noting: The United Arab Emirates has been a recent up-and-comer. In 2014 the country showed up on the top 25 at No. 23 with 13.2 million visitors. It has remained amid the-top ranked countries every year since, and as of last year sits at No. 25 with 15.9 million visitors.

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