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Touring: Vacation Destinations
There are areas of the world that are frequented by tourists year after year and there are those that remain free of tourists. Word of mouth, TV documentaries, guide books, travel agents and numerous guidebooks all help to promote various aspects of travel and in particular, vacation destinations or 'hotspots'.

Areas of specific interest are divided into the following categories: cultural and historic centres, coastal resorts, ski resorts, entertainment centres, Pilgrimage centres and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Germany, USA, United Kingdom and Japan spend the most on tourism annually. France, USA and Spain have the most tourist arrivals every year, in fact they account for 20% of the total annual tourist arrivals. The countries that receive the most income from overseas tourism are USA, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and UK. Using these countries as examples, below are some of the attractions that these individual countries have to offer.

The USA is frequented by approximately 50,000,000 foreign tourists every year and is clearly one of the world's most popular travel destinations. This figure actually accounts for around 7.5% of the total world tourist arrivals annually. The top attractions within the United States of America are the Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam, San Francisco with its Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, New York including Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, Walt Disney World and the NASA stations of Cape Canaveral and Kennedy. USA's main airports for entry and departure are JFK, New York and LAX, Los Angeles.

Italy has seen large numbers of tourist arrivals for years now. Current estimates for the total annual tourist arrival figures are around 35,000,000, which amounts to about 5% of the total world figure. Italy's prime spots are Venice with its many canals, Rome and its Coliseum, Milan and its fashion and Florence for its fine Renaissance architecture.

France is very popular with foreign tourists and receives approximately 66,800,000 visitors or 10% of the total annual world figure. This is the most visited country in the world by far. France has a lot to offer the expectant visitor. Fine wines and Champagne are a French forte together with good quality pates and delicacies like snails or frog legs. Paris is very popular with foreign tourists as it contains the world-famous Eiffel Tower which can be climbed and also the Arc de Triomphe. La Louvre is a well established Parisien art gallery that houses one of the most famous paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa. Elsewhere in France, the Alps are very popular for those with an interest in skiing and the South of France for those with an appetite for a warmer, more pleasant Mediterranean climate. The many WWII battlefields of Normandy in northern France are a popular destination for soldiers wanting to re-live past memories.

Spain is popular amongst those wanting beach holidays as well as cultural centres. The beaches of the Costa Brava, Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol (known collectively as the 'Costas') have developed in a big way since package tourism took hold in the 1960s. The nearby Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Ibiza are now very popular beach holiday destinations. For those wanting to try something with a little more cultural significance, Barcelona is well worth a look. As Spain's second city it receives large amounts of visitors each year, most of them staying for only a few days over a long weekend. Barcelona's most celebrated architect Antoni Gaudi developed a very colourful organic style of construction and created the Sagrada Familia cathedral which is still unfinished. Park Guel on the north face of the city is another stark testament to Gaudi's vivid style. Approximately 43,500,000 people visit Spain every year.

Germany is another popular destination with lots to offer the visitor. Koln has its huge Dome Cathedral, Munich brushes the beautiful Black Forest and provides a gateway to Bavaria in the south and Berlin offers a glimpse at the old East Germany. The Berlin Wall still has one small section remaining which has been turned into an outdoor graffiti art gallery. Germany hosted the European Championships of 1988 in the old West Germany.

The United Kingdom has many famous aspects to attract foreign tourists. London is a centre for all manner of clich�s: Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tate Gallery and even the old red telephone boxes. Outside the capital, Stonehenge has drawn in visitors for decades, all marveling at how it could possibly have been constructed without the aid of modern machinery. Britain receives around 26,000,000 visitors each year, most of them arriving at London's Heathrow airport.

Other prime vacation destinations include:

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Ayres Rock, Australia
The Pyramids & the Valley of the Kings and Queens, Egypt
The Taj Mahal, India
The Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
Machu Pichu, Peru
The Great Wall, China
The Acropolis, Greece
Red Square, Russia
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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